Did you know there is a way to ask for police help in an emergency situation, even if you are unable to speak?
With increased measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus, many people in our communities are now isolating within their homes. Sadly, this means that we may see a rise in cases of domestic violence and child abuse as families and couples are spending more time in close quarters than ever before.
If you are in an emergency situation at home, but can’t speak, there is a process you can follow to let us know you need help.
All 999 calls are directed to call centres and will be answered by BT operators, who ask which service you need. If no service is requested but anything suspicious is heard throughout the process, BT operators will connect you to a police call handler.
If you call 999 from a mobile
It’s always best to speak to the operator if you can, even by whispering. You may also be asked to cough or tap the keys on your phone in response to questions.
If making a sound would put you or someone else in danger and the BT operator cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, your call will be transferred to the Silent Solution system. This is a police system used to filter out large numbers of accidental or hoax 999 calls. It also exists to help people who are unable to speak, but who genuinely need police assistance.
You will hear an automated police message, which lasts for 20 seconds and begins with ‘you are through to the police’. It will ask you to press 55 to be put through to police call management. The BT operator will remain on the line and listen. If you press 55, they will be notified and transfer the call to the police. If you don’t press 55, the call will be terminated. Pressing 55 does not allow police to track your location.
When transferred to your local police force, the police call handler will attempt to communicate with you by asking simple yes or no questions. If you are not able to speak, listen carefully to the questions and instructions from the call handler so they can assess your call and arrange help if needed.
If you call 999 from a landline
Because it’s less likely that 999 calls are made by accident from landlines, the Silent Solution system is not used.
If a 999 call is made from a landline and there is no request made, the caller does not answer questions only background noise is heard, you will be connected to a police call handler.
If you replace the handset, the landline may remain connected for 45 seconds in case you pick it up again.
If you pick up again during this 45 seconds and the BT operator is concerned for your safety, the call will be connected to the police.
When 999 calls are made from landlines, information about where you’re calling from should be automatically available to the call handlers to help provide a response.