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Silent 999 calls - Dial 55

9 Apr 2019

Dialling 55 after dialling 999 alerts police operators that you are in need of assistance but cannot talk.

There are many different reasons why someone may need to call the police. In some situations the caller may not be able to speak due to needing to keep the call private to protect their safety. 

When you dial 999 anywhere in the UK your call is answered by telephone operators, who will then direct your call to the most appropriate emergency service.

Most people will be surprised to know just how many accidental 999 calls are answered by operators in the UK every single day. Police operators will try to distinguish if the call is genuine or what is commonly known as a ‘pocket dial’ by answering a series of questions. If there are slight noises such as breathing that lead the operator to think someone is in fact on the other end of the line and cannot talk, the call taker will ask the individual to dial 55 to make it clear they cannot talk.

Dialling 55 will then send the call through to the police, who can try to locate the caller and send out assistance if it is believed the call is an emergency.

The force’s demand hub call agents are very skilled in seeking information from callers who may not be in a position to communicate effectively. Tactics such as tapping the handset or asking ‘closed’ questions that only require yes or no answers are used.

It is important to note the force does not automatically have details of the caller’s location so cannot send automatic assistance, particularly if the caller is using a mobile phone. For more information on the service and how it works, click here.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired, you can contact the emergency services by texting 999. Register your phone and read more here.

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