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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

Ajman Police issue plea after 999 calls about poetry and prayer times

Public reminded that 999 line is for emergency calls only

Ajman Police have urged the public to use the 999 telephone number only in emergencies after operators took calls about prayer times and one caller phoned in with regular poetry readings.

Lt Col Hisham Abdullah Bu Shihab, director of Ajman operations room, has asked that the 901 number be used for non-emergency situations.

During Ramadan, the police control room fielded inquiries about whether the Maghrib prayer had been called so people could break their fast.

An elderly man called the operations room regularly for more than three months to talk about his life and to recite poetry for the officers.

Lt Col Bu Shihab said: “He obviously was a lonely man and needed to talk to someone – the officers did not dismiss him, but instead dealt with him in a polite and professional way,” he said.

“Children call by mistake, while others call to ask about childish, innocent things,” he said.

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Lt Col Bu Shihab said that many calls came from people asking about non-emergencies, such as how to open a traffic file or how to apply for a government job.

He said that the 901 number was for non-urgent calls, where nine staff answer callers.

The public plea was made as Ajman Police unveiled a new operations room, equipped with the latest technological tools to help increase safety and cut response times.

A new system connecting the operations room with Etisalat will help officers identify the caller and their location – a potentially life-saving addition.

“In some incidents such as fires, lives were lost because locating the place took time, but now with this system, once a call is made reporting an emergency of any kind, one of three screens will show the caller’s identity information and another screen will show his location,” Lt Col Bu Shihab said.

The room will be electronically linked to traffic, civil defence, national ambulance and all other vital departments, which will be alerted of the report once made.

In the first three months of this year, 177,000 emergency calls were received by Ajman officers.

Maj Saeed Ali Al Madhani, deputy director of the operations room, said that several factors, including the smart map and the visual alert, contribute to improved safety.

“The smart map shows us what we call hot zones, while the visual alert, which is linked to 2,879 cameras installed in 154 institutions in Ajman including banks, exchange centres and gold shops, alert us in case of break-ins or other illegal activities,” he said.

He explained that visual-alert cameras are so sensitive to motion that police even received alerts from banks when distributors left newspaper copies under the door and from ATM booths where a client slammed the door.

“The alarm goes off, we turn on the cameras linked to the place where the alarm came from to see what is happening. In one incident, we watched as thieves made an opening in a wall separating an exchange centre from another shop, then gained access – we easily arrested them before they could leave,” Maj Al Madhani said.