SINGAPORE: Two people – a man and a woman – will be charged in court for their alleged involvement in separate cases of making hoax calls to the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
The police and SCDF received 31 calls from the 34-year-old man between Aug 26 and Sep 14 this year, during which he allegedly reported emergencies such as cases of attempted suicide, loanshark harassments, fires and serious sexual offences at various locations in Singapore.
Upon responding to the calls, the police and SCDF established that no such incidents had occurred.
“The man took elaborate measures to conceal his identity, including using a foreign number to make the calls, and impersonating another person by providing a false identity over the phone,” the police said in a press release on Wednesday (Sep 27).
Officers established the identity of the man by analysing the call patterns and through ground enquiries and he was arrested on Sep 18.
He will be charged on Thursday with 27 counts of making harassing or obscene telephone calls to emergency call numbers, as well as four counts of communicating false information of a harmful thing.
The second case involves a 27-year-old woman who on Aug 26 this year made two calls using a local landline, purportedly to report a case of attempted suicide at a block along Pasir Ris Street 13.
Similarly, police officers and SCDF responded to the calls and established that no such incident occurred.
Follow-up investigations established the woman’s identity and she was arrested on Sep 16.
“During the engagement, the woman refused to cooperate with the police to hand over her digital device for investigation.
“As such, she was arrested for the offence of resistance to the taking of property by the lawful authority of a public servant,” the police said.
She will also be charged on Thursday with two counts of making harassing or obscene telephone calls to emergency telephone numbers.
The Police Operations Command Centre (POCC) received more than 1.3 million calls to the 999 emergency number from January to August this year, amounting to more than 5,000 emergency calls a day, according to the press release on Wednesday.
About 4,000 of these daily calls were silent calls from mobile phones.
“Due to the high number of calls, call operators from POCC spent more time answering silent ‘999’ calls rather than genuine emergency calls,” the police said. “This resulted in longer waiting time for real emergency calls to be answered by our operators.”
They added that those who misused the number to falsely report crimes or an emergency “further exacerbated the problem”.
“Such actions not only add to the waiting time for real emergency callers, they also divert scarce resources from responding to real emergencies,” the police said.
POCC commander Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Lee Su Peng, said: “The police take a serious view of persons making silent or false calls to ‘999’.
“It is an offence to abuse emergency hotline numbers. Where necessary, the police, in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, will prosecute such callers in court.”
Those convicted of making harassing or obscene telephone calls to emergency telephone numbers can be jailed for up to one year, fined up to S$5,000 (US$3,645) or both.
Meanwhile, those convicted of communicating false information of harmful thing can get a longer jail term of up to seven years, a fine of up to S$50,000 or both.