09/04/2019

New Campaign To Help People Alert Police Without Speaking

A function that enables 999 callers to inform police of an emergency without making a sound has been highlighted in a campaign by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The Silent Solution system will allow anyone in immediate danger, who may be too scared to speak or make a noise, to press 55 when prompted and confirm they are in a genuine emergency.

This nationwide initiative is well established in the UK but is only effective with enough public awareness. The 'Make Yourself Heard' campaign has been launched during National Stalking Awareness Week, 08-12 April.

The PSNI has encouraged people in Northern Ireland to inform their family and friends of the potentially life-saving function.

The family of Welsh murder victim Kerry Power have supported the initiative after she died in 2013 believing that if she made a 999 call she would not need to speak or make a noise for the police to send assistance. Sadly, her call was terminated and she was not connected to officers as she was unaware of the Silent Solution system.
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The public are advised to be aware that police will not automatically attend if you make a silent 999 call. Callers need to listen and respond to questions and instructions, including by coughing or tapping the handset if possible, or if using a mobile phone, once prompted by the automated Silent Solution system, pressing 55.

The system filters out thousands of accidental or hoax silent 999 calls made daily. Around 50 emergency calls from mobiles a day are transferred by a BT operator to police forces in the UK as a result of someone having pressed 55 when prompted, enabling the police to carry out urgent enquiries to respond.

IOPC Regional Director Catrin Evans said: "It is always best to actually speak to a police call handler if you can, even if by whispering, but if you are putting yourself or someone else in danger by making a sound, there is something you can do.

"Make yourself heard by coughing, tapping the handset or once prompted by the automated system, by pressing 55.

"We found from our investigation into police contact with Kerry 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 potentially save a life."



(JG/CM)

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