Repeat 000 Time Wasters Will Have Their Mobiles Blocked

Repeat 000 Time Wasters Will Have Their Mobiles Blocked

About half the calls made to the 000 emergency number turn out to be inappropriate, so it’s not surprising that plans have been introduced to block the mobiles of people who repeatedly misuse the service.

The plans, announced yesterday by communications regulator ACMA, would see repeat abusers of the number (either through ringing in non-emergency situations or through chronically being unable to lock their handset) having their mobile access blocked altogether. That doesn’t mean your phone will stop working if you mistakenly place a single 000 call: “Progressive steps will be taken to formally warn the owner of the mobile handset before the handset is blocked, in addition to the caller details being provided to police as appropriate,” ACMA notes.

Almost two-thirds of calls to 000 are made on mobiles, so blocking isn’t a step to be taken lightly, but if individuals are vexatiously using the service, it seems like a reasonable step. And clearly some people are, to put it mildly, a bit thick: the official standard is now to refer to the number as ‘Triple Zero’ in case people assume they can dial the letter O on their phones to get the same results.

Handset blocking for repeated non-genuine calls to Triple Zero [ACMA]


  • Firstly:
    “the official standard is now to refer to the number as ‘Triple Zero’ in case people assume they can dial the letter O on their phones to get the same results”

    really?? wow.. some people must be so thick! why not rearange all of the keys so that 0 and O are on the same key? may as well change everything for these morons!

    Are they planning on blocking the phone number or the IMEI? either way, people change numbers all the time, and you might end up with a blocked number. or if i buy a second hand phone, how can i tell if it has been blocked?

    there needs to be a way of checking these details.. i would crack it with my service provider if they issued me with a number that was blocked and then i died because i couldn’t call 000… we would also need a way to get the number/phone unblocked.

    lets wait and see what happens when people start to die because they got blocked some time ago and now there is a real emergency.. i know that every time i have called 000 it wasn’t because i was in danger, it was because someone else was..

    great move ACMA..

    • My understanding of the ‘triple zero’ thing is that it’s aimed at very young children who don’t quite get the difference or aren’t sure which is the right number, but may need to ring emergency. It’s being pushed hardest in primary schools, I do know that. I can certainly imagine a four year old knowing that they should ring ‘triple oh’, picking up a mobile, and not being sure which is the right button. Older kids and adults ought to know better, but strange things can happen to people’s thought processes in emergency situations. Trying to make things clearer to everyone does no harm.

  • This is definitely not the way to go. I have no doubt it’d be frustrating as hell having to deal with prank callers, particularly serial prank callers, but above all else:-

    Everybody has a right to life.

    All it takes is for one person with a blocked number to die by not getting through when they needed the help, or for that matter for a person with a blocked number not to be able to make a call to help somebody else. And then what will people say? “That’s what you get for making prank phone calls!”. Disgusting.

    Gimme a break.

    • But if the 000 operators are busy answering a crank/nuissnace call and can’t answer someone that really needs it…?

      How about just making those that make nuissance calls use a different number instead of 000? something like… 0118 999 881 999 119 725… 3

    • Consider the fact that these prank callers are tying up the lines for actual dying people just for a bit of a laugh. If you treat the 000 system like a joke repeatedly, and continue doing so after being warned…then no, you don’t deserve to use the service. Call it the “boy who cried wolf” treatment if you like.

      • Having said that, there could be issues with young kids calling who can’t comprehend the seriousness of their prank calling and get their phones blocked…

        I suppose the warnings would come to their parents houses, but its something to consider.

  • Or… you could make it an offence punishable by law to inappropriately utilise the 000 service? Since people are calling from their mobile phones – we know who they are… Send them a fine!

  • According to the link :
    “Calls to Triple Zero will not be blocked under the initial handset blocking..(edited for length).. give consideration to extending the blocking process to include Triple Zero calls by fully disabling the handset.”


    “This process may ultimately lead to a mobile handset being barred for outbound calls, other than to call the relevant carriage service provider or Triple Zero or 112.”

    So they don’t stop you making call TO triple zero,
    They stop you calling anyone BUT Triple Zero your S/p and 112. Considering Landlines have the same restriction when the account is canceled I don’t see what the issue is.
    and according to the release they will basically try everything else first before they stop you making outgoing calls.

    As a side note, No Offence Angus but the article seems a bit misleading in my view since it’s not mentioned they are only blocking outgoing calls and not stopping Triple 0 access which is what the article is implying, However I may just be a bit pedantic :p

  • No matter what they do you can always call 112 without a sim and 000 probably works the same in australia. Obviously you can’t make any other calls but i think it is a bit ironic the one number you can call is the number they are trying to free up from prank calls.

    • and then i read a bit further… “This will review the trigger level for initiating the blocking and give consideration to extending the blocking process to include Triple Zero calls by fully disabling the handset.”

      maybe they are serious about it. im all for it, i just hope they don’t block the people who pocket call 000, as i do that about twice a month somehow.

    • Actually, ACMA does suggest that someone who continually abuses the process could eventually be blocked from 000 calling as well — though that won’t be an option until after the first six-month review of the scheme.

  • Simple solution – make each 000 call chargeable at say $5, unless it is a real emergency.

    The operator can determine whether a call is genuine and therefore exempt from the charge. These funds to be collected by the phone companies passed on to the emergency services operators to ensure enough resources to answer the calls.

    I think you’d find the prank/accidental calls would drop considerably.

  • “or through chronically being unable to lock their handset”

    All the phones I have had will still allow 000 even when locked. It is quite annoying as I have made accidental 000 pocket calls. I’m sure many other people are in the same boat.

  • Scott, I love your idea and totally support it! $5 may be a bit too cheap if one considers the resources put into handling a call.

    The ACMA article says “In Australia, making vexatious calls to Triple Zero is a serious offence under the Criminal Code Act 1995. ” Sounds like people are getting away with it so far…
    Rather than give operators the discretion to slap a fee on the 000 call, a call charge should be put on every single call. Operators should then be given the discretion to waiver the charge when they deem it a genuine situation, and this should be enshrined by law.

    I can imagine that this would cause an uproar in the media, but if prank calls are really serious then it might be worth considering. As long as the public know that most call fees will be waived, that would do the trick.

    Where the phone doesn’t have any credit, 000 calls should still be available. The likelihood of anyone making prank calls on a zero credit phone will be low because they can’t make any other phone calls – no point having the SIM card in the phone.

    I think that would solve the problem of having to keep a register of prank phone numbers and IMEI numbers, and buying second hand numbers/phones.

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