Silent 999 calls
There may be an occasion where you need to phone us, but cannot speak to us directly. For example:
- intruders could be in your home
- you want to alert us without raising suspicions of someone you’re fearful of.
Some people think that we will always attend if you stay silent after calling 999, but that’s not always true.
When you dial 999, a phone operator from BT will answer your call. They’ll ask you which service you need, either:
If you cannot or do not speak, the operator will be listening out for background noises. This can include:
- you tapping the phone
- Key presses. However, operators cannot distinguish which key has been pressed
- other background noises
If you do not make a request, but the BT operator believes that the caller needs an emergency service or something suspicious is happening the call will be connected to us.
The Silent Solution System
This system helps us filter any accidental or hoax 999 calls. It also helps us help you if you cannot speak, but need our help.
First, you’ll hear an automated message which begins with "This is the police.” It will ask you press 55 to be put through to us.
If you do this, or either tap your phone or make a noise, you’ll be put through to us by the BT operator. They stay on the line and listen to your call after connecting you to the system.
If you do not do any of this, your call will be disconnected.
What happens when I've pressed 55?
If you press 55, you’ll be transferred to our call centre. One of our advisors will let you know you’re through to us.
If you cannot speak, you’ll again be asked to tap your phone, make a noise or press 55. The advisor will try to help you in a number of ways, so you do not feel under pressure to just do one thing.
If you can speak to the advisor, do so. However, you’ll get a response from them if you:
- press 55
- tap your phone
- make any other sort of noise
If you do press 55, we will not:
- be able to track your location
- send officers to where you live
What it does do is let the advisor that there’s an emergency situation happening, but you cannot talk about it. They will then try to work out where you are so they can send officers to help you.
Interacting with the advisor
If you cannot speak to the advisor, the advisor will ask you to tap the phone to answer questions. For example, press one for yes and two for no.
If you can only say one thing, say your location. If you call from a mobile, we can get an approximate location, but it does not narrow down enough to find exactly when you are.
If you can speak directly to the advisor, do so. The questions they ask will be short and can be answered with either yes or no. They may also ask you to speak in a code, to work out what’s happening.
Our advisors can carry out checks to help find you, particularly if you’ve spoken to us before. If your phone is also registered to you, we may be able to find your location.
All these cases are dealt with individually. We know that each call is different, and our way of helping you is adapted in line with your circumstances.