How to make a silent 999 call

If you are suffering from domestic abuse and you are afraid for your safety or your life then you should call 999. However, we appreciate that this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. 

Here is what to do if you need urgent help from the police but you can’t speak. 

If you call 999 from a mobile phone:

When you call 999 you will be directed to a call centre and a BT phone operator will answer your call. They will ask what service you need (police, ambulance, fire department) 

It is always best to speak or make a noise if you can. You may be asked to whisper, cough or tap 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. 

What is the silent solution system?

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.

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 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, when an emergency call on a landline is received and there is no request for an emergency and / or 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. 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.