Straw warns of millennium meltdown for mobile phones

Click to follow
The Independent Online
MILLIONS OF mobile phones could crash on 31 December, the Home Secretary said yesterday as he gave details of measures to cope with possible public disorder.

Jack Straw said: "It is highly probable a great many mobile phones will be used around midnight ... High levels of use could swamp the system." He told MPs that arrangements had been made to "manage the networks", which could mean all but emergency services being cut off.

With events including pop concerts and firework displays across the country, Mr Straw conceded: "It is an exercise in predicting the unpredictable." The Army will be on stand-by, with some troops ready to go into action at a few minutes' notice. Police leave has been cancelled and the fire services are to be on special alert.

One fear is that overcrowding could get out of hand, particularly in central London, where between 1.5 million and 2 million people are expected to be on the streets.

A millennium centre, with emergency planning staff, will operate around the clock and a committee of ministers will be monitoring events from the Cabinet Office.