The Independent Office for Police Conduct launched a national campaign to make people aware of how they can alert police that they are in danger but unable to speak. The silent solution system is well-established in the UK but will only be effective if the public is made aware of how to use it.
Many people are unaware that the Police will not automatically respond if you make a silent 999 call. The Silent Solution is a police system used to filter out accidental or hoax 999 calls. It also exists to help people who are unable to speak, but who genuinely need police assistance. Using this system means that a 999 caller who is unable to make a noise or speak, can respond by coughing or tapping and pressing 55, when prompted, to inform police that there is a genuine emergency.
The Make Yourself Heard campaign is led by the police with the support of Womens Aid and the family of murder victim Kerry Power.
Kerry made a silent 999 call in the early hours of December 14th 2013, when her ex partner broke into her home. She was unaware of the silent solution system and did not respond to instructions, as 55 was not pressed the call was terminated and police were not notified of her call. Her Ex-Partner called Police later that morning to report that he had fatally strangled her.
"We found from our investigation into Police contact with Kerry Power that there is a lack of public awareness of the silent solution system and are keen to share this important information as widely as possible. It could save a life" - IOPC Regional Director Catrin Evans
How to use the silent solution system
In an emergency 999 should always be called, if the caller is unable to speak they need to press 55, but there is a procedure that needs to be followed and the limitations of this (ie that the police cannot track the caller when a mobile is used) need to be made clear.
Listen to the questions from the operator
Respond by coughing or tapping the handset
If prompted, press 55
If you press 55, the operator 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. Further details of the system can be found on a document from the IOPC here.
Facts and Figures*
The Police service receives 12 million 999 calls each year.
Around 20,000 silent 999 calls are made a day.
Of those around 5,000 are transferred to the silent solution system because doubt over whether the call is genuine exists.
Only 1% of those transferred calls uses the 55 instruction.
* taken from policeconduct.gov.uk
The Telegraph - Inside 999: 'We're getting calls about domestic abuse all day - but not just between partners' - https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/inside-999-getting-calls-domestic-abuse-day-not-just-partners/
DV-ACT are a team of domestic abuse experts, available throughout the UK, who provide assessments, consultancy and training to local authorities and the family courts. Our experts have decades of experience working directly with domestic abuse perpetrators and victims, as specialist assessors and as expert witnesses in the family courts.
DV-ACT was formed with the aim of using our expertise to help safeguard children from abuse, this is at the heart of everything that we do.