How to call 999 when it is not safe to speak

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Police chiefs have issued vital advice to people on how to call 999 in an emergency when it is not safe to speak.

Situations may arise when you need to request immediate help, but you may not be able to speak as it may put yourself and others in danger.

People are being made aware that they can still communicate with police by tapping the handset, coughing or making a noise, in response to questions being asked on the phone by an operator.

Here is some advice on what to do in this situation:

- When you call 999, the operator will ask which service you require. If you don’t respond, you are then connected to the silent solutions service hosted by the Metropolitan Police where you are prompted to tap the handset, cough or make a noise. You’ll then be given the option to press 55 to be put through to your local police force as an emergency caller.

- If you don’t respond to any of these options, unfortunately police will have to terminate the call to allow them to deal with other incoming calls. This is because police do receive hoax calls alongside misdials and the occasional call from an inquisitive toddler.

- The process is designed to allow people to inform call handlers that their call is a genuine emergency, without having to put themselves in danger. This works with the current threat advice of RUN, HIDE, TELL where you are advised to put your phone on silent and may be unable to speak to the police.

- Police won’t automatically have exact details of your location once you’ve been put through to the control room but they will do their best to assess the situation and find out where you are. Police might need to ask questions that require you to tap the screen to respond. Once they have got enough information, they can assess the call and respond accordingly.