Police in Hertfordshire are asking people who accidently dial 999 to remain on the line to confirm they are safe and well.
The constabulary, like emergency services nationally, has seen an increased demand in call volume. This is for a number of reasons, but one having a significant impact is an increase in silent and abandoned calls.
Hertfordshire Constabulary saw a 44 per cent increase in silent and abandoned calls received in May 2023 (4,608 calls) compared to May 2022 (2,541 calls).
Force Communication Room (FCR) Superintendent Elaina Usher said: “Calls to 999 where our operators cannot hear anyone on the line are never just ignored. Our call handlers will then spend valuable time trying to call the number back to check whether emergency help is required or not.
“If you do accidentally call emergency services, please stay on the line and explain you dialled in error. That way our call handlers can close the call knowing the person who dialled does not need our help.”
Some of the increase in abandoned rates is believed to have been caused as a result of an update to Android smartphones.
The update, issued between October 2022 and February 2023, added a new SOS emergency function for devices to call 999 through the power button being pressed five times or more on devices.
If you have an Android phone, you can check your emergency settings to turn off the functionality added in the latest update, if you wish to.
Go to ‘settings’ then ‘safety and emergency’ and slide the button which says ‘emergency SOS’ to switch the functionality off.
Superintendent Usher also highlighted the Constabulary’s 5-Steps campaign which explains if, when and how the public should contact police in non-emergency situations.
She added: “We’re asking people to use our online services and information whenever possible for non-emergency situations such as reporting damage-only road traffic collisions or criminal activity which is not actively in progress.
“We want to continue to ensure that as many of our call handlers as possible are available to answer those potentially life-threatening and crime ‘in action’ 999 emergency calls rather than responding to enquiries which could be dealt with via online methods.”
5-Steps to consider when contacting us:
Before contacting the police, consider is this the correct service for your enquiry?
If you’re not sure if calling us is appropriate for your enquiry then, if possible, please check online, the information you are seeking could be there for you already via our website, a council website or another service provider.
If you are wanting to report a crime which has already happened then use our online reporting facility to log it and obtain a crime reference number.
Do you want to share some information with police? Please use our web chat service or, if that isn’t possible, call 101.
If you are in an emergency situation, where there is life at risk or if you believe a crime is in action then of course continue to contact emergency services immediately by calling 999.