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Police Shame Pranksters On YouTube 390

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the because-they-can dept.
Barence writes "British police are shaming hoax 999 callers and time-wasters on YouTube in an effort to cut down on non-emergency calls. Video clips uploaded include a lady phoning police to ask what year the internet started, the dramatic tale of a man whose wife would only provide salmon sandwiches for lunch, and another worried soul who had lost her glasses and could not see properly to peel potatoes. Anyone else think the chance of YouTube fame is more likely to encourage copycats than educate people about the wrongs of hoax calling?"
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Police Shame Pranksters On YouTube

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  • Jolly Good! (Score:5, Funny)

    by HaloZero (610207) <<protodeka> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:04AM (#24400121) Homepage
    Let's start a channel to isolate these hooligans. Keep them all in one place, for our own efficient comic consump-.... I mean, to prevent their debauchery from spreading throughout all of YouTube! (Yeah. Right?)
  • by PakProtector (115173) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [vikvec]> on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:04AM (#24400123) Journal

    Is it just me, or is England already well down the spiral towards "What the Fuck are you Thinking, Nation?"

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by geekmux (1040042)

      Is it just me, or is England already well down the spiral towards "What the Fuck are you Thinking, Nation?"

      Err...I wouldn't exactly call the Youth of America contenders for the Olympics in the categories of Intelligence and Common Sense.

      In the history of Education, I don't think we've had standards any lower. Good thing we're not leaving any children "behind".

      • by PakProtector (115173) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [vikvec]> on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:17AM (#24400311) Journal

        I'm not talking about the Youth -- that's an entirely separate discussion.

        I'm talking about the namby-pamby morons in charge of the nation; people who are worried that the police dogs are going to scare the criminals they're being used against, or say that an adult can't take pictures of vandals because they're minors.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by geekmux (1040042)

          I'm talking about the namby-pamby morons in charge of the nation; people who are worried that the police dogs are going to scare the criminals they're being used against, or say that an adult can't take pictures of vandals because they're minors.

          Good point, and I stand corrected. When digging for a solution, one must look for the root cause. IMHO, that root cause has been the downward spiral of our legal system. Until we start threatening disbarment on lawyers that bring us the no-shit-it's-hot coffee lawsuits and punishing judges that actually allow this tripe through the doors of a courtroom, we will continue to be a paralyzed nation, hog-tied under the threat of ligitation.

          • by icebrain (944107) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:52AM (#24400839)

            Well, to be fair (and assuming I remember the details correctly), the coffee in that cse was a lot hotter than it was supposed to be. So it's not quite as moronic as it sounds at first.

            But seriously, the perp suing the homeowner because he hurt himself breaking in? Throwing a homeowner in jail for shooting perps that broke into his house, while said perps with long rap sheets get off? Guy fights back against someone who attacks him with a knife, and goes to jail for it? WTF, England?

            This is meant on an entirely serious note... should we bring back public floggings for some offenses? I think that would be a lot more effective than the figurative slap on the wrist that is so often employed.

            • Overheard an interview on dutch radio yesterday when two crimonologists were telling of their exprience with crime research to celebrate 100years of the field.

              One researcher in the field apparently claimed "Nothing works" before killing himself (didn't catch his name).

              It seemed to be the general consensus, some groups commit crime, we understand a few of the causes but not yet all but are powerless to really affect it.

              It doesn't matter if you hang everyone or send them of with a stern look, crime figu

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                The most effective way to stop crime? Tech that stops the crime before it can happen. You can't stop people from wanting to be criminals and you can't stop them once they are but if they can't actually commit the crime you stopped them nonetheless.

                All this does is breed smarter criminals. Unless we start being able to read minds, this is outside the realm of possibility. And like the overuse of antibiotics, it doesn't 'kill' the 'bacteria' --- it just makes it come back stronger and /more likely/ to thrive.

                The problem is that culturally, we practically deify criminal behavior. "Oh no," we say. "That bad bad man killed 30 people!". Then we spend years watching documentaries and specials and movies about how he got away with it for so long.

                Our p

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by arevos (659374)

                  All this does is breed smarter criminals.

                  This is probably a good thing. The majority of crimes are committed because the criminal is too stupid to accurately assess risk versus payout. Criminals that make more than the average wage are extremely rare.

            • by meringuoid (568297) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @10:59AM (#24402019)
              Throwing a homeowner in jail for shooting perps that broke into his house, while said perps with long rap sheets get off?

              If you're referring to Tony Martin: his house was burgled, he confronted the burglars, and they fled. He then fired upon them as they were running away. He was not at this point acting in defence of himself or his property; this aim had already been achieved, with the burglars now leaving the premises. He opened fire anyway.

              Brendan Fearon, who had been wounded, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for burglary. Fred Barras was too dead to stand trial. Tony Martin was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, later commuted to five years for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility because of his paranoid personality disorder.

              • by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @11:13AM (#24402291)

                Thanks - you made the same point I was going to, but supplied more information than I would have done.

                Bottom line is that self-defence is ok, but Tony Martin was not acting in self-defence.

              • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @11:27AM (#24402559) Homepage Journal

                He was not at this point acting in defence of himself or his property

                If it was true that he had been burgled several times (the police didn't seem to think so of course), then why should he have to scare them away each time? Better to give them a bit more reason not to come back again, though I don't think they were quite worthy of actual death. Just because you have scared someone away once doesn't mean they won't be back with their mates later.

                In America this wouldn't have been given a second look by the press, but over here in the UK it's a massive deal.

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  If it was true that he had been burgled several times (the police didn't seem to think so of course), then why should he have to scare them away each time?

                  I'm sorry, but convenience is not a good reason for a citizen to use deadly force.

                  In America this wouldn't have been given a second look by the press

                  Yes it would have; gun nuts would have been all over it just like you are. Remember Bernie Goetz [wikipedia.org]? That guy was lionized for shooting some kids on a subway for allegedly trying to rob him. Hell this guy is still giving interviews in the press almost a quarter century later.

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    I'm sorry, but convenience is not a good reason for a citizen to use deadly force.

                    Preventing someone from robbing you repeatedly isn't "convenience". There's no point in trying to build or earn _anything_ if some jerk can just come take it.

                    When the police are incapable or unwilling (or both) to do their job, people will start to do it for them. This will result in a lot more dead bodies. If a nation doesn't want that, it should make sure its police are capable and willing to protect its citizens. Anything l

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by stdarg (456557)

                If you're referring to Tony Martin: his house was burgled, he confronted the burglars, and they fled. He then fired upon them as they were running away. He was not at this point acting in defence of himself or his property; this aim had already been achieved, with the burglars now leaving the premises. He opened fire anyway.

                I don't know if that's what GP was referring to, but it's still ridiculous. Who's to say they wouldn't come back to retaliate? Next time they'd shoot first. I would be very nervous if I had chased off a small gang that A) knew where I lived and B) already showed criminal disposition.

                And life imprisonment?? What risk is this guy posing to *civilized society*? None. That punishment is complete bullshit.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by FireFury03 (653718)

              This is meant on an entirely serious note... should we bring back public floggings for some offenses? I think that would be a lot more effective than the figurative slap on the wrist that is so often employed.

              I'm of the opinion that instead of slapping teenagers with an ASBO [wikipedia.org], there's a lot to be said for putting them in stocks in the middle of the town. (yes, I'm being serious).

              But of course, that would be humiliating and we can't possibly humiliate someone in front of their friends when they break the law...

              Also, on a less serious note, it would improve the economy by allowing grocery shops to sell off their rotten fruit for the purpose of chucking at the damned yoofs. :)

            • by causality (777677) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @11:09AM (#24402203)

              But seriously, the perp suing the homeowner because he hurt himself breaking in? Throwing a homeowner in jail for shooting perps that broke into his house, while said perps with long rap sheets get off? Guy fights back against someone who attacks him with a knife, and goes to jail for it? WTF, England?

              At least in the USA, what began by being taught in public schools is now becoming further institutionalized as entire generations grow up under absurd standards like these. For example, in the public schools, someone can physically attack you without provocation and if you defend yourself, you are punished and your punishment is equal to theirs for attacking you. This is true no matter how well-established it is that the other person started the fight. The rank-and-file teachers and administrators who go along with this are what you might call "true believers" who think that all use of force is wrong, including those cases where you are attacked and have no choice but to defend yourself. This serves to deny personal responsibility in the case of the attacker (the idea that if you attack someone unprovoked, what happens next is on your head) and fosters that damned victim mentality that is so prevalent these days in the case of the defender. Of course this is insanity, which is why they start such policies at a young age. Not because children don't know injustice when they see it, but because they are less able to resist it and instead they become callous to it.

              I can think of two major reasons for this mentality and for why it would spread from government schools to society at large. First of all, the state wants to have a monopoly on the use of force no matter how justified that use of force is. Someone who is armed and willing and legally able to defend his own home and his own family might not feel as dependent on government as a helpless victim who cowers in a corner hoping that the cops show up soon. "Government to the rescue" is big, big business these days and helpless, timid people are so much easier to govern.

              The other major reason is that there is a sort of war being waged against the concept of individuality and it's not because we have transcended ego boundaries but because our leaders have a statist, collectivist agenda. That's why the news media loves to bring up race and social status and religion and sexual orientation even when they are otherwise irrelevant to the story, because these are group identities. They are trying to teach you, by constantly reinforced example, to think in terms of groups, not individuals. This is why political candidates worry about "the black vote" and "the hispanic vote" and "the elderly vote" instead of telling us why they believe they have superior ideas that would apply equally to everyone (something you'd rationally expect from government). It's hard to think of something more individualistic than defending yourself, your home, and your family instead of waiting for "the professionals" to come along and do it for you.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by element-o.p. (939033)
                I determined in second grade, IIRC, that if I was going to be punished for defending myself, that's fine...but I would not be a victim.

                Having said that, in many cases, it is a lot easier to simply roll over, and unfortunately, that seems to be the choice most people make anymore.
          • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @10:15AM (#24401197) Journal

            Wow, McDonalds did a great job at PR in that case! You never hear about the consultant that told them to lower the coffee temperature, or how they had reduced the amount of material in the cups to the point where they would fall apart if you had the lid off and put any pressure on them. Just to save a few hundredths of a penny per cup.

            This case has become the example everyone uses to prove the legal system is screwed. McDonalds corporate overlords must be laughing all the way to the bank, they've managed to turn a PR nightmare into a goldmine of free publicity.

        • I thought you were maybe talking of the authoritarian fascists running the country - the ones behind ASBOs,arguably the most pervasive surveillance state in the world, DNA registries for the everyman etc. etc.
      • by CowboyNealOption (1262194) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:21AM (#24400381) Journal
        I wouldn't exactly call the Youth of America contenders for the Olympics in the categories of Intelligence and Common Sense.

        I can't wait to see these events on tv. I wonder if anyone will spontaneously catch fire after they lose an event?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by residieu (577863)
        Yeah, but they're youth. They're supposed to be stupid. Here's the police, who are supposed to have sense, taking people who are wasting public resources because they want attention and giving them even more attention by putitng them on YouTube. What are they Thinking?
    • English is racing against the United States. Who's winning though?
    • by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:59AM (#24400951) Homepage

      Is it just me, or is England already well down the spiral towards "What the Fuck are you Thinking, Nation?"

      England? Just you.
      Homo Sapiens, the "What the Fuck are you Thinking, Species".

      -

      • Homo Sapiens , the "What the Fuck are you Thinking, Species".

        I resent that remark! I'm clearly Homo Superior.

    • by owlnation (858981)

      Is it just me, or is England already well down the spiral towards "What the Fuck are you Thinking, Nation?"

      • Firstly, there's not much thinking going on in England. Unless it's about celebrity Big Brother, or when one's next drink will be.
      • Secondly, those that think have little voice since most media is owned by the government or News Corps International (who also own the Government, of course)
      • Thirdly, anyone thinking is being watched by 5 million cameras.
      • Fourthly, if they can prove you've been thinking yo
  • Yes (Score:2, Insightful)

    If anything, the prank callers should be given less attention. That being said, the videos are hilarious, and I want more of them.
  • by B4light (1144317) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:05AM (#24400137)
    I want to go make a prank emergency call too! :D
  • TRUFAX. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560)

    Anyone else think the chance of YouTube fame is more likely to encourage copycats than educate people about the wrongs of hoax calling?

    Yes, because there was certainly no such thing as prank phone calls before Youtube came along.

    • Re:TRUFAX. (Score:5, Informative)

      by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:11AM (#24400231) Homepage

      Anyone else think the chance of YouTube fame is more likely to encourage copycats than educate people about the wrongs of hoax calling?

      Yes, because there was certainly no such thing as prank phone calls before Youtube came along.

      Yes, because that's what the GP said. He said "Youtube will create the concept of prank calling". It's not like he made a valid point about it encouraging idiots to get some 'fame' for themselves, or possibly memeifying the worst calls and making them into regular prank call trolls. Way to miss the point.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rob T Firefly (844560)

        Yes, because that's what the GP said. He said "Youtube will create the concept of prank calling". It's not like he made a valid point about it encouraging idiots to get some 'fame' for themselves, or possibly memeifying the worst calls and making them into regular prank call trolls. Way to miss the point.

        Perhaps I did miss the point of that question, thanks for pointing that out. Without being a sarcastic asshat, what I mean is that I still don't think Youtube fame has or will have any appreciable effect on prank phone calls to 999. Prank calling has been around for ages, and there have always been a percentage of prank callers doing it to get "noticed" in some way, trying to be the next Jerky Boys or what have you. The medium has just shifted with the times; the folks who in past generations may have be

        • by mgblst (80109)

          Who gives a fuck what you think? Are we all supposed to base our decisions on what some genius who can't even respond to a question properly thinks?

          Of course there is a higher chance of people making prank calls after watching this - they now have an audience. The challenge is there to get the most views, by making the most funny and ridiculous call, with which they can brag to their friends about.

          Just for the record, I've always dug phone pranks, but I've never enjoyed ones involving emergency operators. T

    • Re:TRUFAX. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dancindan84 (1056246) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:19AM (#24400351)
      People have no respect for anyone any more, themselves included. If they want them to stop they should hit them where it hurts, in their wallet. Even a small $50 fine for a non-emergency 999/911 call would be enough to deter pranksters.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rob T Firefly (844560)

        People have no respect for anyone any more, themselves included. If they want them to stop they should hit them where it hurts, in their wallet. Even a small $50 fine for a non-emergency 999/911 call would be enough to deter pranksters.

        I agree that 999/911/etc. pranksters deserve some sort of punishment, but the fact of the matter is it's easy enough to avoid having such calls traced back to you that anyone can do it with little to no hassle. With a little Googling and effort anyone can spoof their phone number, or even simply use a public phone that doesn't have a camera pointed at it.

        • Two issues:

          1) The fact that it is technically doable doesn't mean that folks will work around the caller id. The majority of folks do stuff like this on a spur of the moment impulse. Most of them aren't thinking far enough ahead to try this.

          2) I could be wrong on this, but I believe the police (in the US anyhow) won't be spoofed. I believe there is another protocol in place where they can actually record where you are calling from.

          • ) The fact that it is technically doable doesn't mean that folks will work around the caller id. The majority of folks do stuff like this on a spur of the moment impulse. Most of them aren't thinking far enough ahead to try this.

            I do wonder whether it's actually the majority, but at any rate those people will be found and punished for this particular crime, while others won't.

            I could be wrong on this, but I believe the police (in the US anyhow) won't be spoofed. I believe there is another protocol in place where they can actually record where you are calling from.

            It's quite possible to spoof 911, from complex technical workarounds I won't go into to simply beige-boxing [wikipedia.org] someone else's line. I don't endorse such actions or course, but that doesn't make it any less technically possible.

            • by Vancorps (746090)

              A beige box doesn't spoof anything. It is not possible to remotely spoof someone else's phone number anymore. The only avenue of attack to get around this is to dial into a vulnerable PBX and call out using that PBX. It's not spoofing though, once they are on to you they can use that PBX to trace back to the original caller.

              Caller ID has two parts, the CNID part which you can modify and the ANI part which is based on the hardware you are connecting removing control from you.

              We had our PBX compromised a wh

        • Re:TRUFAX. (Score:5, Funny)

          by clang_jangle (975789) * on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:48AM (#24400785) Journal

          simply use a public phone that doesn't have a camera pointed at it.

          What, in England?!

  • Itsatrick (Score:4, Funny)

    by krkhan (1071096) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:06AM (#24400165) Homepage

    Anyone else think the chance of YouTube fame is more likely to encourage copycats than educate people about the wrongs of hoax calling?"

    Anyone else think that British Police *is* the one going after Youtube fame because they weren't getting enough channel views?

  • Not a bad idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neokushan (932374) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:07AM (#24400171)

    It's not a bad idea, but as the summary theorised, it's just going to create a bunch of copycats.
    What they should do is list how much each person has been charged for these hoax calls to hammer home that it just wont be tolerated.
    It makes me sick when people waste the Emergency service's time like this and I genuinely believe they should all be harshly punished for it - people's lives are at stake, there's no excuse.

    • Re:Not a bad idea (Score:5, Informative)

      by xaxa (988988) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:29AM (#24400489)

      A non-emergency number (101 [101.gov.uk]) was launched a couple of years ago in some areas to try and reduce the number of calls to 999, it's meant to be used for: reporting vandalism and graffiti; noise nuisance; threatening and abusive behaviour; abandoned vehicles; dumping and fly tipping; drunk and rowdy groups; drug related anti-social behaviour; and broken street lighting.

      There's also NHS Direct [nhsdirect.nhs.uk] (0845 46 47), for medical non-emergencies.

      Perhaps Google could launch a service to cover everything else, with some voice recognition, a Google search and an audio web browser.

      • by kabocox (199019)

        A non-emergency number (101) was launched a couple of years ago in some areas to try and reduce the number of calls to 999, it's meant to be used for: reporting vandalism and graffiti; noise nuisance; threatening and abusive behaviour; abandoned vehicles; dumping and fly tipping; drunk and rowdy groups; drug related anti-social behaviour; and broken street lighting.

        Um, that stuff actually sounds like valid reasons to dial 911 around here. When you really look at most police stuff is this nonemergency stuff.

      • Re:Not a bad idea (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @10:26AM (#24401377) Homepage

        fly tipping

        I (and probably most non-Brits) was rather puzzled by that phrase. All I could think of was cow tipping. LOL. So I looked it up:

        Fly-tipping or dumping is a British term for illegally dumping waste somewhere other than an authorised landfill. [wikipedia.org]

        And I came across this hysterical news item of a man threatened with prosecution under the Fly Tipping law:
        threatened with prison or a £50,000 fine if he takes windblown sand back to the beach. [dailymail.co.uk]
        Oh christ, some government official being just a wee bit anal-retentive with the law there.

        And I love this part: Offenders can also have their vehicle - in this case a wheelbarrow - confiscated.

        I can just see some five-year-old having their tricycle confiscated for playing with a plastic pail of sand and pouring it on the beach. Damn Fly Tippers.

        -

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WombatDeath (681651)

      It makes me sick when people waste the Emergency service's time like this and I genuinely believe they should all be harshly punished for it - people's lives are at stake, there's no excuse.

      I agree with the sentiment, but I think the difficulty lies in punishing the offenders without deterring people from reporting genuine emergencies, in the fear that they'll be punished if their problem isn't sufficiently severe.

      I wouldn't classify any of the youtube clips as 'correct' emergency calls, but I can sympathise with at least a couple of them. One clip involves a woman whose house has been invaded by wasps, and I can imagine some people finding that sufficiently scary to panic and mistakenly class

  • by wisty (1335733) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:07AM (#24400185)
    My ISP is slow, and I can't download those videos fast enough. Is there anyone I can call for help?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I hear 999 is great for this.
  • Brilliant... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:08AM (#24400195)
    These 14 year old twits are looking for attention so the cops are giving them international exposure... That couldn't possibly backfire and have the exact opposite outcome... Seriously, if the cops can't understand the very simple and basic motivation of pranksters, what does that say for their ability to understand criminals?...
    • Re:Brilliant... (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:43AM (#24400677) Journal
      Did you listen to the clips? The two linked ones were both elderly ladies, not '14 year old twits,' They didn't sound like crank calls, just people genuinely not understanding what 999 is for (or even what the police are for, in one case).
      • Who do you think is going to see these clips on Youtube? Elderly ladies (who may be suffering from any number of issues that make them absent minded) or 14 year old twit pranksters? And I'm willing to bet the 400-ish erroneous calls they get a month, which are prompting them into action, are not dominated by addle-minded elderly who just don't understand what 999 is for... If they're threatening jail time and 5k fines, they're going after people abusing the system. So I'll stand by my "14 year old twit" sta
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As anyone who has watched Monty Python will know [youtube.com], elderly ladies can be just as much a hazard to society as young hooligans.

      • The "what year was the internet started" one at least sounded like a person who genuinely DID know what the emergency number is for (and indeed said so several times herself), but was too drunk to give a damn.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@nOSpam.tpno-co.org> on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:09AM (#24400207) Homepage

    Except it wasn't a prank. The lady actually believed she could call the cops to get a dead mouse off her porch.

    A friend of mine was the dispatcher who took the call, and he kept the recording.

    • I honestly don't see why legislation hasn't been put in place that fines people for frivolous calls, I mean when you phone 999 you know it's for the emergency services. There is no excuse except perhaps you're senile, in which case a medical professional should provide proof of such and you don't have to pay the fine.. and perhaps get your phone taken away because you're senile and calling 999.

      The current government has been legislation happy, this is something that actually needs it.
      • by operagost (62405) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:45AM (#24400711) Homepage Journal
        I'd humbly suggest that removing the phone from the house of an elderly, helpless, senile person is probably not a complete solution.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'd humbly suggest that removing the phone from the house of an elderly, helpless, senile person is probably not a complete solution.

          Of course not. You have to board up the doors and windows so they can't get out and cause any more trouble.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by kabocox (199019)

          I'd humbly suggest that removing the phone from the house of an elderly, helpless, senile person is probably not a complete solution.

          Oh, there are so many ways that I could answer that.

          Let's try the cruel evil answer first. Sure let's make 78 (or what ever the current average life expectancy age) be the cut off date for all government services. The short answer is that according to the numbers you ought to be dead by now. It's on cost effective for us to pay much to keep you alive. Withholding government se

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      We have had cities for 5000 years yet soooo many people are still incapable of civilized behavior, be it due to nitwittery or hooliganism. Clearly we need to give the process of natural selection an assist in this case and rid the population of such individuals through summary execution.

      Some of the new crimes against civilization should be:

      o Texting whilst driving
      o Driving under the influence of disabling drugs
      o Prank calls to emergency services
      o Sexual abuse of children
      o Invasion of privacy by a government

      • Robert Heinlein wrote a book where a citizen was summarily executed for jumping a bus queue.

        You should add that to your list :)

      • by brkello (642429)
        I find it sad that we mod people up who want people to die if they do something stupid now and then (some on your list are awful crimes, but others are just lame). I am sure there are plenty of stupid things that you do and have done. Should we execute you for those things?
    • by kabocox (199019)

      Except it wasn't a prank. The lady actually believed she could call the cops to get a dead mouse off her porch.
      A friend of mine was the dispatcher who took the call, and he kept the recording.

      Don't you have an animal services department? Any thing that involves animals they get dispatched out on. They aren't cops per se, more like glorified dog catchers, but our city has put them under our police department and our local 911 is used to dispatch animal service calls. I'm more amazed that this isn't more comm

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:13AM (#24400255) Journal

    Anyone else think the chance of YouTube fame is more likely to encourage copycats than educate people about the wrongs of hoax calling?

    For people who intentionally timewaste, maybe, but if there are really people who think it's normal to use 999 for some trivial matter, then raising awareness like this may be useful (though perhaps there is the danger that although it might reduce ignorance, it might increase people who intentionally pretend to be ignorant for a joke).

    I haven't looked at these videos, but they have done this sort of thing before on their own sites - one thing that struck me was just how long the operators remain on the call, in some cases getting into a long drawn out discussion about it. If timewasting is such a problem, why not hang up straight away, or press a button to play a recorded message?

    I'm also curious how likely this is to be a problem - the usual problem with hoax calls is that a police/ambulance is sent out unnecessarily, but that doesn't apply here. If the volume of calls is so large that it's common for people to wait in a queue to be answered, wouldn't it be worthwhile to, you know, hire some more operators?

    The cost of these timewasters should be the cost of the person's time who was employed to answer the call. If the cost is someone's life, then something's wrong with the system.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xaxa (988988)

      one thing that struck me was just how long the operators remain on the call, in some cases getting into a long drawn out discussion about it. If timewasting is such a problem, why not hang up straight away, or press a button to play a recorded message?

      One of the videos has the 999 operator telling the caller he'll now hear the recorded message.

      Perhaps the operators can see how busy the queue of callers is -- if there aren't any calls in the queue, they may as well try and make sure the person who called 999 about their sandwiches doesn't ever call back.

      I'm also curious how likely this is to be a problem - the usual problem with hoax calls is that a police/ambulance is sent out unnecessarily, but that doesn't apply here. If the volume of calls is so large that it's common for people to wait in a queue to be answered, wouldn't it be worthwhile to, you know, hire some more operators?

      The cost of these timewasters should be the cost of the person's time who was employed to answer the call. If the cost is someone's life, then something's wrong with the system.

      "Around 10 million 999 calls to the police were made in 2004, but an incredible 70% of these were not for genuine emergencies."
      Since the calls are answered and last a minute or more, there are presumably e

  • by geekmux (1040042) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:16AM (#24400309)
    (5 years later)"Well, we would like to hire you in our call center, but it seems our background check shows you being a Dumb Ass(TM) a few years ago."

    TM Copyright Red Forman Inc.

  • by gravyface (592485) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:18AM (#24400321)

    I haven't RTFM, but having worked with paranoid schizophrenics and Alzheimer's sufferers in the past, I would bet that some of these "pranksters" may actually be mentally ill; I hope our public servants are at least screening these individuals before humiliating them on YouTube.

    • by gravyface (592485)

      Oops. "RTFA"... or RTFM for that matter.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bamwham (1211702)
      Many "frequent fliers" with ambulance services are just lonely and depressed elderly people who need someone to talk to. I would guess many 911(or 999 as the case may be) time wasters (as opposed to pranksters) have the same issues. It would be nice if society could find a way to reknit the social fabric that used to help these people.
      • 1. First of all, the very thought that someone might abuse the ambulance as a fucked-up substitute for social life, while someone else might die because the ambulance didn't get there in time... makes me _angry_.

        There are situations where every minute counts, e.g., shock. (Which includes due to blood loss in an accident.) In shock, not only each extra minute is an extra chance to die, but it gets your body and inner organs worn and aged very fast. The body essentially reduces or outright cuts off blood supp

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Track down the caller's number.
    Call them back in a few weeks.
    Tell them that you're calling from the hospital and that their parents are dead.

  • Why would we want to stop people from providing indisputable evidence of who committed a particular crime? This should really help to clear the streets of idiots, right? I'm sure it comes as a shock to these people that video evidence generally means a much more hardcore sentence, especially because the "beyond a reasonable doubt" is totally gone at that point. Furthermore, a video uploaded proves intent included malice and an unremorseful attitude. Time to fire up ol'sparky!

  • by RichMan (8097) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:32AM (#24400511)

    The last bit of each segments should list the charges/fines against the person who called.

    Examples:
    Called 911 for a tuna sandwich, $400 fine.

    Called 911 for the capital of Spain, 2 weeks community service.

    Sure the internet notoriety might get some to call but it could be balanced by showing the penalty applied.

    • Called 911 for a tuna sandwich, $400 fine.

      Called 911 for the capital of Spain, 2 weeks community service.

      Called 911 for getting flamed on slashdot, priceless.

  • by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:32AM (#24400513)

    From TFA, this appears to be being done only by Avon and Somerset Police. Something most people aren't aware of is that the 43 ("geographical") police forces of England and Wales (there are a number of "non-geographical" ones too, such as British Transport Police) are essentially separate companies. Or at least they were 2 years ago when I was working on a project to assist in inter-force information sharing.

    The point being that you'll very often find a given force doing something that none of the rest are, as apparently is the case here. So yes, "British police" are doing this, but only in two counties.

  • by cenonce (597067) <anthony_t AT mac DOT com> on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @09:41AM (#24400643)
    This is a mental health issue, and a stupid way of dealing with it. I work in a Public Defender's Office, and while I am sure some of these people are jerks, my experience has been that people who call emergency services with these kinds of requests often have mental health issues. That is why a lot of jurisdictions have mental health diversionary programs for people who commit minor offenses. Embarassing the mentally ill on the internet will only embolden them at best, but certainly not help them deal with their issues in any way. In that regard, this solution seems rather callous.
  • that crank calling the emergency phone number isn't illegal and that violators aren't punished (fines of rapidly increasing value).

    These emergency services are set up to protect the public and tying up the line asking stupid questions about the age of the internet or bitching about what your wife is making for dinner could very well mean the difference between life, death, and/or permanent disability for someone not able to get through immediately.
  • There is no "shame" anymore. Shame is so 1950s.

    If there were such a thing as shame, Paris Hilton would be a nobody and the sex-tape would not be what wanna-be and ex celebs use to jump start their careers.

  • Anyone else think the chance of YouTube fame is more likely to encourage copycats than educate people about the wrongs of hoax calling?

    That goes to the root of the problem with the Western (and by that I mean US, UK and probably most of Europe) society: There is NO shame. In fact, the shamers are usually blamed for picking on those committing the infraction. And where there's no shame, there's no boundaries regarding civility, politeness or common sense.

    So, no, I don't think these videos will work, because

  • And just tack the fine onto their monthly phone bill. If they can't pay the fine, they lose their phone and the problem is solved. The fine should rise exponentially for subsequent infractions so that eventually even the richest crazy person won't be able to afford it.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @02:11PM (#24405693)

    That's simply what it can be sumed up as. People don't give a fuck what you think about them. Yeah, I'm a moron, I'm stupid and I act like it, but I'm rich and famous, so I win. The Homer Simpson principle.

    Could you imagine something like American Idol taking off, say, 30 years ago? People would've been scared to make a fool out of themselves. At the very least, the people trying their hand there would have been a lot lower and only people who could credibly or at least intelligibly sing would try. Ok, since people have no shame, at least the auditions there provide some entertainment (yes, one of my guilty pleasures is to enjoy it when people make a complete tool out of themselves).

    How about lawsuits where the plaintiff acted quite obviously in such a stupid way that yes, there was no warning label because nobody thought anyone could be so utterly and completely stupid and still manage to live to the age of 18? 30 years ago, people would have accepted the damage for their own stupidity than the shame that they were actually SO stupid. But, like I said, no shame anymore, and there's money in it.

    Fuck, offer people 10 bucks to run down naked some street and they do it! Been proven time and again by some TV shows.

    Still, I do consider those movies a good thing, because there are still people who have a sense of decency and don't want to bother emergency lines with minor sicknesses, who then prompty die because what they felt as minor turned out to be major. Showing such movies to them would probably tell them that they should call 999 (or 911, or whatever your number may be) when they feel a little chest pain instead of just lying down and hoping it goes away. When there are so many people calling with utter BULLSHIT, it's by far not uncalled for to dial emergency services for a "little", but real, problem. That's what they were invented for.

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