This is how to effectively make ‘silent’ 999 calls when you’re in danger - according to police

Thursday, 30th April 2020, 10:02 am
If you’re in an emergency situation and need to contact the police, but it’s too dangerous to speak, then the Silent Solution system can aid you in getting help without needing to talk (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you’re in an emergency situation and need to contact the police, but it’s too dangerous to speak, then the Silent Solution system can aid you in getting help without needing to talk.

The Make Yourself Heard campaign hopes to raise awareness of this system, which can help those that need to get in touch with the police, but make as little noise as possible when doing so.

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The Silent Solution system, which has been in operation since 2002, prompts 999 callers to press 55 on mobiles to signify they are unable to talk.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What happens when you call 999?

All 999 calls are directed to call centres and will be answered by BT operators. They will askwhich service you need. However, if no service is requested but anything suspicious is heard throughout the process, BT operators will then connect you to a police callhandler.

Superintendent Shelley Hemsley, force lead for domestic abuse, said, “We know that for those individuals who are suffering domestic abuse, the current stay at home guidance will be causing additional worry, distress and concern.

“It means that victims could be spending more time with their abusers and feel increasingly like they have nowhere to turn and nobody to speak to about what’s happening.

“That’s why forces across the country have been promoting the so-called ‘silent solution’ emergency call, which means if someone feels they are in danger but can’t physically speak to a call operator, they can dial 999.”

What is the silent solution?

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) explains that the Silent Solution is a police system which is used to filter out large numbers of accidental or hoax 999 calls.

It also exists in order to help people who are unable to speak, but who genuinely need assistance from the police.

Superintendent Hemsley explains that, “The operator may ask some questions, which is very important to note. What we don’t want victims to do is call 999, press 55 immediately and then hang up. This may not have the desired effect and your call may not be seen for what it is – a genuine emergency call.

“The operators will ask you some questions, they may prompt you to cough or make a noise, or press some buttons on your keypad – something that lets them know that you are there, you are listening but you are unable to talk to them.”

It is then at this point that you will be asked to press 55, which will then alert the operator that this is an emergency call from someone who is in urgent need of assistance, adds Supt Hemsley.

The operator will go on to make an assessment of what they can hear in the background to determine the level of response.

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Cowley of West Yorkshire Police’s Domestic Abuse Lead reiterated this, explaining, “We would encourage anyone experiencing domestic abuse to report it to the police in an emergency via 999.

“If you can’t talk because the perpetrator is nearby, you can press the numbers ‘55’ into your mobile phone, which will alert the operator of your circumstances.”

Supt Hemsley notes that, “police and a multitude of other agencies, charities and organisations are working together throughout the current pandemic to support victims of domestic abuse. You are not alone.”