§ Mrs. Renée Short
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research is being undertaken into the feasibility of introducing an automatic tracing system for telephone calls; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
A study is being undertaken, at the request of my Department, by British Telecom into the feasibility of identifying automatically the telephone numbers of those calling for assistance from the police and fire services. The purpose of this study is to see whether, by speedier identification of the location of the caller, the police and fire services will be able to respond more rapidly; and also to assist the services to deal more effectively with malicious and hoax calls. This study, which has to be conducted against the background of impending changes in the public switched telephone network resulting from the introduction of system X, has not yet been completed. In the interim, a limited local facility is available on request to police and fire services, which indicates automatically the identity of public telephone boxes from which an emergency call is made.