Silent 999 calls

Advice about 999 calls and the use of “55” has been shared widely recently as a means of alerting the police to the fact a victim of abuse is in danger.  The full advice available from the police national website is as follows:

Silent 999 calls are not automatically transferred to the police, as they may have been dialled accidentally. However there is a procedure which the police request the emergency operator to follow for silent 999 calls that means that if you have made an emergency call but cannot speak (for example because you believe you will be in danger if you are heard), then the nature of the call will be identified if at all possible and it will be connected to the police and dealt with appropriately.

If you find yourself in the situation of having to make a silent 999 call to police, you must listen carefully to the emergency operator and follow instructions given to you. This is the same for calls from a landline or mobile phone. However please be aware that it is extremely difficult for the police to trace the location of mobile phone calls, so any indication you can give of your location, even if you have to whisper, is vital.

If you dial 999 but are unable to speak, keep the line open and listen carefully to what the emergency operator says.

At the start of the call they will ask: “Emergency which service?”

If you do not respond they will then ask: “Do you need Fire, Police or Ambulance?”

If you still do not respond the operator will say: “What number have you dialled please? I cannot release your line until you say that you do not need an emergency service”

and then:  “If you are unable to speak but need an emergency service, please tap the handset, cough or make a noise”.

If the operator does not get a response to any of the above questions but can hear background voices, they can connect the call to a system that asks you to press “55” on your keypad if you want the police.

Responding in one of the above ways will prompt the operator to quickly connect to the police.

It is not recommended that anyone calls 999 silently.

In an emergency it can be safer and quicker to speak to a police call handler even if you have to whisper, but if there is no option but to make a silent call you must listen to the emergency operator and respond to any instructions as above to ensure that your call is identified as an emergency, routed to the police control room and logged and dealt with appropriately.