There may be a time when a 999 call needs to be made, but talking will put you or someone else in danger.
Knowing this simple tip could save your life
- Imagine you are suffering domestic abuse, you have managed to call 999 secretly on your mobile but you can’t talk to the operator as the abuser will hear you.
- If you are hiding from terrorists after an attack and need to stay silent how can you let the police and ambulance services know where you are and that you are in danger?
Police Do Not Respond to Silent Calls
“Please do not think that just because you dial 999 that police will attend,” they said. “We totally understand that sometimes people are unable or too afraid to talk, however, it must be clear that we will not routinely attend a silent 999 call.
A woman who was murdered in 2013 in her home by a violent ex-boyfriend while her ten-year-old son slept upstairs dialed 999 during the attack, only to be ignored by police.
Previously she had been told by police to make an emergency silent call from her mobile phone if she felt she was in danger. They apparently failed to explain to her the Silent Solution System, under which she was supposed to give a signal such as a cough, a tap to the handset, type 55 to indicate it was not a hoax or accidental call.
- Around 20,000 silent 999 calls (where no response is obtained to questions) are made a day. Of those, around 5,000 are transferred to the Silent Solution system because doubt, whether the call is genuine, exists.
The 55 instruction is detected around 50 times a day (1 percent of all silent calls put through to the system).
Inside the 999 control room
Imagine you are inside a 999 control room with the operator sitting at their desk. They receive a 999 call and the operator asks which service they require, there is no answer.
Is this a person in danger or an accidental call?
If the caller does not answer, the operator will prompt by asking them to cough, make a noise or tap the handset. Failure to respond will result in the operator asking the caller to type ‘55’. If there is no answer the call is terminated and it is assumed the call was accidental.
Had she done so the police would have responded to her call but as she did not make a sound, the call was terminated.