How to call the police if you can't speak


Make Yourself Heard

If you're in an emergency situation and cannot speak for any reason you can still contact the police. The Silent solution System is a police system that is used to filter out accidental or hoax 999 calls. It allows people who are unable to speak but genuinely need police assistance to get help.

The silent solution system can save lives, but it's important that you understand what to do after you've dialled 999.

How to contact the police if you can’t speak

Step 1: Dial 999 - Your call will go through to a call centre and an operator will ask which service you need. The operator will connect you to a police call handler if they can hear suspicious noises and do not get a response.

Step 2: Listen to questions from the 999 operator - The operator will then ask you questions to make sure that it's a genuine call. It's always best to speak to the operator if you can, even if you have to whisper.

Step 3: Respond by coughing or tapping if you can - If making a sound would put you or someone else in danger do not speak.

The operator will ask you to cough or tap the keys on your phone in response to their questions. It's important that you respond by pressing buttons or coughing. The operator may hang up if they do not hear a response.

When the operator hears your response your call will be then be transferred to the Silent Solution system.

Step 4: If prompted press 55 - Stay on the line. 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 operator will still be listening in, 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 so you will need to stay on the line and listen to their instructions.

What happens next?
When transferred to your local police force, the police call handler will ask you simple yes or no questions. If you can't speak, listen carefully to the questions and instructions so they can assess your call and arrange help if needed.

When calling from a landline

It’s less likely that 999 calls from landlines are made by accident so the Silent Solution system will not be used. You will be connected to a police call handler if you make an emergency call on a landline and:

  • There is no request for an emergency
  • The caller does not answer questions
  • Only background noise can be heard and BT operators cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed

If the handset is replaced, 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 operator is concerned for your safety, the call will be connected to 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.