WHAT do you do if you need to ring 999 but it's not safe to speak?

Police are keen to spread the word of a safe but little-known approach.

The "Silent Solutions" system is used to help decide whether officers are sent out in response to a silent 999 call, thousands of which are made each day.

Here's how it works:

  • If you ring 999 you will be asked which emergency service you require.
  • If you do not say anything, the operator will ask you to cough or indicate in some other way if the call is an emergency.
  • If you do not feel it is safe to make any noise (eg if you do not want to alert someone to your presence), then your call will be transferred to a system that will ask you to press 55 if your call is an emergency.

This message has been circulated on social media this week, since being published by a newspaper in Devon.

A police spokesman said: "Please do not think that just because you dial 999 that police will attend. We totally understand that sometimes people are unable or too afraid to talk, however it must be clear that we will not routinely attend a silent 999 call.

"There must be some indication that the call has not been mis-dialled."

Police can only go to a location if they know where to go and this may be very difficult for them to find out if the silent caller is using a mobile phone. 

Control room staff and officers are often very frustrated because they realise that someone is silently asking for help, but they don't know where they are, and therefore, cannot help them.