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Android's Emergency SOS increases accidental calls to police

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BT has seen a large increase in calls being made accidentally to the emergency services from Android phones, according to Police Scotland. If you have an Android phone and have tried to wake it up by tapping the power button more than five times, you might have been shocked to have been placed on a call with the emergency services.

While the feature is obviously included with good intentions by Google, many budget Android phones are a bit underpowered and lag… a lot. It’s likely in these situations, out of frustration, users are tapping the power button five times and invoking the Emergency SOS feature.

Police Scotland has advised the public not to hang up if they accidentally call 999 because they want to know that you’re safe. It said silent calls are never ignored because they can indicate a victim can’t talk for fear of being found out and so the police have to spend time following up with these calls.

If you’ve accidentally made a call to 999 with this feature, you can always opt to disable it. Just head to Settings on your Android phone, go to Safety & Emergency > Emergency SOS and toggle off use Emergency SOS. If your Settings has a search feature, just do a search for Emergency SOS.

Having a quick way to call emergency services is a great idea and should exist on phones, but Google needs to find a way to do this better. It’s worth noting that most Android lock screens have an emergency call button available, so it’s questionable whether it needs a shortcut on the power button too.

Most people in the UK are taught from a young age not to call emergency services without a good reason. Thanks to this conditioning, people who accidentally call up through Emergency SOS might think it best to hang up as quickly as possible and hope the call didn’t go through.

Police Scotland’s advice on the matter is definitive, however, you should stay on the line until you’ve cleared it up with the operator that the call was an innocent mistake.

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