How to make a ‘silent’ call in an emergency

When PC Butcher activated his blue lights, the motorcyclist sped off
When PC Butcher activated his blue lights, the motorcyclist sped off

There may come a time when a 999 call needs to be made - but talking will put the caller or others in more danger.

Those who feel they are unable to speak to the 999 operator can make them aware that they are in trouble by pressing ‘55’ on the phone keypad.

If you dial 999 but are unable to speak, keep the line open and listen carefully to what the emergency operator says.

At the start of the call they will ask: “Emergency which service?”

If you do not respond they will then ask: “Do you need fire, police or ambulance?”

If you still do not respond the operator will say: “What number have you called please? I cannot release your line until you say that you do not need an emergency service”

And then: “If you are unable to speak but need an emergency service, please tap the handset, cough or make a noise”.

If the operator does not get a response to any of the above questions but can hear background voices, they can connect the call to a system that asks you to press ‘55’ on your keypad if you want the police.

Responding in one of the above ways will prompt the operator to quickly connect to the police.

This still doesn’t mean the police know where you are, so try your best to get as much information to them as you can, so officers can be sent to help you.

In an emergency it can be safer and quicker to speak to a police call handler even if you have to whisper, but if there is no option but to make a silent call you must listen to the emergency call operator and respond to any instructions to ensure that your call is identified as an emergency, routed to the control room, and logged and dealt with appropriately.

Police do not recommend that anyone makes 999 calls silently - only when it is necessary.

Lincolnshire Police’s call centre staff are skilled in seeking information from callers who may not be in a position to communicate effectively, so for example tapping the handset in a way that answers the call handler’s questions can be utilised, or skilled use of closed questions (yes or no) enables the call handler to effectively get the most suitable response to the call.

The police call taker will do everything they can to assess the call, they will not always send a patrol - so it’s important that you provide any information you can. Each call is assessed based on the available information, including any previous calls to the police, but this still doesn’t mean they will know where you are.

• To report a crime and other concerns that do not require an emergency response, call 101 or log on to Lincolnshire Police’s online reporting service.