Police receive thousands of silent 999 calls

Police say they have dealth with thousands of silent 999 calls in the last few months.

Police say they have dealth with thousands of silent 999 calls in the last few months. - Credit: Archant

In the last three months, police have received 28,069 999 calls of which 2,831 were silent.

New figures reveal that police in Cambridgeshire have received thousands of “silent” 999 calls in the last three months.

The public are being urged to take more care when using phones as unnecessary 999 calls divert time away from emergencies.

In the last three months, there were 28,069 99 calls of which 2,831 being silent.

Of those silent calls 2,646 (93.5 per cent) were investigated and have been closed due to there being no concern for the caller.


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Superintendent Michael Branston said: “It’s great to know that those who are in a genuine emergency are able to reach us so easily in just a couple of clicks.

“But unfortunately this comes with the side effect of people accidentally dialling through to the emergency line.”

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“When a call handler receives a silent call, there are various checks and measures that need to be carried out to assess whether the caller is in danger.

“This includes creating an incident log and checking various systems for all previous calls from that number.

“They then call the number back, or send a text message if they cannot get through, before closing the incident.

“The incident log is then passed to a supervisor who completes further checks to ensure there is no risk to the caller before taking no further action.

“Every silent call is different, but on average it takes us about 10 minutes to follow up each one.

“This can easily add up to hours and a disproportionate amount of the team’s time is spent ensuring accidental callers are not in any danger.

“There’s a host of reasons why someone may dial 999 by mistake, whether that be a pocket dial or a child who has got hold of a parent/carer’s phone and come through to the emergency line without realising.

“Whilst we appreciate that most silent 999 calls are a genuine accident and have no malice behind them, we would urge members of the public to be more careful and help us keep our time and phone lines free for those who need our urgent assistance.

“You can do this by familiarising yourself with your phone’s emergency SOS functions to avoid dialling us unexpectedly.

“We also know that some people call 999 and are in danger but cannot speak.

“I want to reassure these people that our call handlers are trained to pick up on situations like these and there is a system in place to help assess your needs and arrange help.”

Victims who are in immediate danger and are unable to speak are reminded of the Silent Solution system.

By calling 999 and then pressing 55, callers will be transferred to a call handler who will be able to assess and arrange help without them needing to speak.

For more information on how to contact police: www.cambs.police.uk/contact.

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