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IOPC launches ‘Make Yourself Heard’ campaign to raise awareness of silent 999 system

Make yourself heard campaign

A national campaign to raise awareness of a system to help people alert police when in imminent danger but unable to speak, is being launched by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) today (8 April 2019).

The Silent Solution system enables a 999 mobile caller unable to to make a noise, or speak, to press 55 when prompted – to inform police they are in a genuine emergency. Between April 2018 and March 2019 we were passed 41,999 calls from Silent Solution, along with many other silent 999 calls that come direct to us from BT.

The system is well-established in the UK but is only effective if the public know and understand how it works. It could, in extreme situations, potentially save a life.

The IOPC-led ‘Make Yourself Heard’ campaign is being launched this week and coincides with National Stalking Awareness Week (8-12 April).

Avon and Somerset Police Head of Command and Control Becky Tipper added: “We really welcome the Make Yourself Heard campaign, which aims to raise awareness of this important service. We know there are many different situations when someone might need to use this, but it is especially timely during National Stalking Awareness Week. We want victims to know that they shouldn’t suffer in silence.

“People call 999 in an emergency for many reasons – often it is to come to the aid of someone else but sometimes it can be when your own life is in danger or when you are in a crisis situation.  Talking to the emergency operator and providing them with details of your location and exactly what is happening is always the best and fastest route to getting emergency help.  However, there could be occasions where speaking out loud is just not possible or would put you in more danger and that is why knowing about the 55 service is so important.

“There are some urban myths and a lot of misinformation on social media around the use of 55 on an emergency call – some posts claim that police will automatically know where you are and dispatch officers to your location. This is not the case – but the police call handler will do everything they can to understand what is going on, where the caller is, and if they believe there is a true emergency ongoing. If you can, stay on the line, listen carefully to the police call handler, and communicate in whatever way you can, ensuring your safety comes first at all times.”

If someone dials 999, they will initially go through to BT who ask what emergency service they require. If a keypress of 55 is detected during the call to the BT operator, BT will relay this to a police call handler and tell them that ’55 is detected’.

Call handlers are trained to deal with this situation and will make attempts to communicate with the caller using button presses. They may ask them to press a key twice for ‘yes’ or once for ‘no’.  The police call handler will stay on the line and guide them through the call. They will also be listening out for any background noise or signs of disturbance – if this is detected then further investigation into the situation or location is possible.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Stalking is unacceptable and it is a criminal offence. We need to ensure that everyone knows about the Silent Solution as it could potentially save a life.

“The impact of stalking on victims and their families can be devastating. I would urge anyone affected by this crime to not suffer in silence. Please tell someone and seek the help you deserve to protect yourself from anyone you think might want to cause you harm.”

To read further information simply download the Silent solution guide.