Police Reveal What To Do If You Can't Speak During 999 Call
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The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has revealed what to do if you need to make a 999 call, but you're unable to speak.
If you're in an emergency situation, but you cannot explain the help you need, there are steps you can take to alert the call handler that you're in danger and need support.
IOPC has explained that there are certain noises you can make which should help the operator understand what's happening.
While they emphasise that it's always best to speak if you can, it's not always possible. However, coughing or tapping keys in response to questions can help.
"It is always best to speak to the operator if you can, even by whispering," they explain.
"You may also be asked to cough or tap the keys on your phone in response to questions."
If making any sound would put you in danger, there is another option if you're calling from a mobile, called the Silent Solution system.
"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," they continue.
"The Silent Solution 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."
Once the call is transferred to your local force, the handler will try and communicate with you by asking 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," they continue.
The situation is a little different when calls are made on a landline. Because accidental calls are less likely on a landline, the Silent Solution system is not used.
"If, when an emergency call on a landline is received there is no request for an emergency; the caller does not answer questions; only background noise can be heard and BT operators cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, then you will be connected to a police call handler as doubt exists," they explain.
IOPC advise that if you then replace the handset, the landline may remain connected for 45 seconds in case you pick it up again.
If you then pick up the phone again during the 45 second period, and the operator is concerned, the call will be connected to police.
When emergency calls are made from landlines, more information about your location should be available to the handlers.
You can find more information here.