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This National Stalking Awareness week we’re backing a national campaign to raise awareness of a system allowing mobile callers to contact police in an emergency, if they are unable to speak or make a noise.
The ‘Make yourself heard’ campaign launched earlier this week by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is intended to raise awareness of a national system called ‘silent solution’, in which callers who dial 999, from a mobile phone, but are too afraid to speak can press 55 to confirm they are in a genuine emergency.
Emergency (999) calls in the UK are initially handled by a BT operator, who will ask a few questions in order to determine the most appropriate emergency service for the situation.
If there is no response to these questions, and in order to filter out hoax or accidental calls, the operator will ask the caller to dial 55 if they are in a genuine emergency. The call will then be transferred to police.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Shaw, Derbyshire Constabulary lead for Stalking and Domestic Abuse, said:
“There are a number of different situations where a caller may be in a genuine emergency but is too afraid to speak for fear of putting themselves or another person in danger.
“In these cases, the ‘silent solution’ system is vitally important as it could potentially save a life.
“Anyone who dials 55 on the BT operator’s instruction, within Derbyshire, will be put through to the force control room where one of our call handlers will attempt to establish the location of the caller and the nature of the emergency.
“It is really important to note that the police will not automatically have the location details of a caller who has pressed 55, but they may ask a series of yes or no questions to establish this and ask the caller to tap their keypad or whisper, if they are unable to speak normally. They can also follow up information provided by the mobile operator to get an approximate location.”
The system, which has been in place for a number of years, is not in operation for calls from landlines because it is less likely that accidental 999 calls will be made from landline phones. However, if a caller doesn’t respond to questions or only background noise can be heard from a landline call it will be connected to a police call handler.