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Silent 999 Calls

Hertfordshire Constabulary


There is a misunderstanding that police will always attend when a silent Telephone 999 call is received - this is not correct.


When you call Telephone 999 in the UK, your call is answered by a BT or Cable & Wireless emergency operator, who will direct your call to the most appropriate emergency service.

If the caller does not respond to the operator to indicate which service they require, they will be transferred to the automated Silent Solutions system. This uses a voice message to ask the caller to confirm they require an emergency service by pressing the digit ‘5’ on their phone twice.

If the caller presses the digit ‘5’ twice they will be transferred to the originating emergency operator and the call will be dealt with as normal with enquiries made to try and find the caller.

Police will not automatically have details of where you are – particularly for mobile phones - so we can’t automatically send police to your location.

Every day the Telephone 999 service receives a large number of accidental Telephone 999 calls, particularly from mobile phones. Each call is assessed on the available information, such as any previous calls to the police, but will not necessary mean we know where you are.  If you are unable to speak, listen to the call operator who will ask questions and give instructions to help you.

Our control room operators are skilled in seeking information from callers who may not be in a position to communicate fully. For example they ask you to cough or tap the phone in response to specific questions in an attempt to pinpoint your location.