Dundee phone box extinction ‘could put vulnerable at risk’

A phone box on Craigowan Road in Charleston.
A phone box on Craigowan Road in Charleston.

Removing public phone boxes across Dundee could put vulnerable people at risk, it has been claimed.

BT has launched a 90-day consultation on the future of public payphones in the city, after statistics showed some phones were not used at all over the past year.

However, others had up to 22 calls made from them and Councillor Craig Duncan fears people who want to make anonymous call, such as those trying to flee domestic violence or report a crime, could be affected.

A number of rarely-used public phones have also fallen victim to vandalism, including the phone box on Grey Street outside Broughty Ferry Library.

© Supplied
Public phones are being used less and less, with many such as the one on Grey Street falling victim to vandalism.

Mr Duncan said: “It’s an assumption that most people make, that everyone has a mobile phone or that he first person you run into will have one.

“I would caution against that. If someone is vulnerable, for example if they are suicidal and they want to call the Samaritans or something like that, they’re not going to want to borrow someone else’s phone.

“There are also people who may want to report a crime anonymously and they don’t want to use their own mobiles.

“Domestic abuse victims trying to get help also wouldn’t want to leave a trail of calls they’ve made.

“Although public phone usage has decreased I think there is still a place for them.

“I would also urge BT to fix the vandalised phone box. Until a phone box is actually removed it should be maintained in good working order.”

A spokesman from BT explained that the vandalised phone box is due to be removed within a week.

It will be removed outside of the consultation process as BT only need to consult if there isn’t another payphone within 400 metres.

Phone boxes across Dundee earmarked for removal include those on Aboyne Avenue, Nursery Road, Strathmore Street, Dalhousie Road, Hebrides Drive, Fintry Drive, Dunholm Road, Fintry Terrace, Buttars Road and South Road.

Others include payphones on Perth Road, Derwent Avenue outside Kirkton Library, the box opposite Balunie Drive, Macadam Place, Baldovan Road and Strathmore Avenue.

A BT spokesperson said: “Most people now have a mobile phone and calls made from our public telephones have fallen by around 90% in the past decade.

“We consider a number of factors before consulting on the removal of payphones, including whether others are available nearby, and usage.

“As part of the consultation we are offering communities the chance to adopt traditional red ‘heritage’ phone boxes for just £1 through our Adopt a Kiosk scheme and transform them into something inspirational for their local area.

“We have assessed our payphones in Dundee and are consulting on the removal of 16 boxes.”