BT, which manages the 999-phone system, experienced a technical fault on Sunday the 25th of June causing disruptions throughout the day. The incident resulted in over 11,000 emergency calls being missed and BT is now under formal investigation by Ofcom and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (‘DSIT’) for a potential failure to comply with its regulatory obligations.
It wasn’t until 21:09 in the evening that BT was able to move off back-up systems and reissue emergency calls on its primary 999 network. BT have now stated that they put a ‘robust temporary fix’ in place and are in the process of testing a permanent solution. The number of people harmed due to the incident is currently unclear.
The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, is conducting an investigation into the measures taken to reduce the risks of any compromises to the availability, performance or functionality of the network. The speed at which BT notified the government after the service first went down is also called into question considering BT only reported the issue to the government three hours after problems first occurred. Accordingly, DSIT is also launching an inquiry into the speed of BT’s response. If found in breach, BT could face a fine of millions of Pounds.
The incident has urged Lord Hogan-Howe, the head of the Metropolitan Police between 2011 and 2017, to advocate for the removal of BT from the 999 process. BT is needed as a switchboard between the fire, ambulance and police departments but such dependence on one service provider evidently comes with risk.
BT have now conducted an internal investigation and have admitted they ‘could have done better on clear and timely communication with the emergency services, Government and Ofcom’. They have apologised ‘sincerely’ for any distress caused.
 See details of the Ofcom investigation at https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/bulletins/enforcement-bulletin/open-cases/bt-999-outage-june-23
Please contact Danny Preiskel if you have any questions regarding the above.
The material in this article is only for general review of the topics covered and does not constitute legal advice. No legal or business decision should be based on its content.
This article is written in English language. Preiskel & Co LLP is not responsible for any translation of all or part of its content into any language.