Can’t the emergency services do a location lookup on this 3 year old girl?

If you’ve been following any live TV today you’ll have seen this story about a 3 year old who called 999 about her mother who’d fallen down the stairs.

The media is doing a good job of trying to raise awareness in the hope that someone in the area will know the family and be able to help the emergency services.

Have a read of this bit from The Telegraph’s coverage:

The call is believed to have come from an unregistered mobile telephone and electoral roll checks by officers for Stacey Halls living in the area have proved fruitless.

Detective Chief Inspector Lisa Griffin said: "We urgently need the public’s help to identify exactly where Ellie and her mum are.

"We are hoping that someone out there who knows the family will recognise the pieces of information that the ambulance call-taker managed to get from her and will get in touch.

via Hunt for mystery girl, 3, who rang 999 because her mother had fallen ill – Telegraph.

Now, if this coverage is accurate, there’s absolutely no reason the emergency services can’t do a lookup on the mobile phone and find it’s location immediately. Or at least, down to the house or street.

I’m baffled as to why that’s such a problem in this case.

What does “unregistered mobile phone” mean? Pay-as-you-go? Irrelevant. It’s still connected to a mobile network — presumably — and therefore it can be located.

Even if the phone had no credit, it’s still attached to the network, right? It can still connect — every phone is designed to be able to do this. And therefore it can be located.

Surely this sort of situation (where there’s apparently a mobile phone involved) shouldn’t arise any more?

Here’s a Sky News story (which doesn’t include any mention to a mobile phone.)

Update: Typical… It was a hoax!

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

3 replies on “Can’t the emergency services do a location lookup on this 3 year old girl?”

I assume the reason they couldn’t locate the phone was that the emergency services only get the general location of the cell tower you’re using – the police need to make a specific request to the network to obtain more detailed info. I presume by the time they did this the phone was off.

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