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Surrey Police issue advice on pressing 55 when calling 999 in support of the IOPC Make Yourself Heard campaign

News   •   Apr 09, 2019 15:11 BST

Yesterday (Monday 8 April), the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) launched a national campaign, ‘Make Yourself Heard’, to raise awareness of a system to help people alert police when in imminent danger but unable to speak. We are giving Surrey residents advice to make them aware of what happens when contact centre staff receive a 999 call, and 55 is pressed.

The Silent Solution system enables a 999 mobile caller who is too scared to make a noise, or speak, to press 55 when prompted – to inform police they are in a genuine emergency. The system is well-established in the UK but is only effective if the public know and understand how it works. It could, in extreme situations, potentially save a life.

The system works as follows:

  • If someone calls 999 and doesn’t speak, the BT operators will try to establish if the call is genuine by asking questions
  • If no one speaks, but suspicious noises or a disturbance can be heard, the call is forwarded to police who’ll decide if officers are required.
  • If no noise is heard, the call is forwarded to an automated service that will ask the caller to dial 55 (a service called Silent Solutions), which will direct the call to police.
  • Call handlers will then establish if there’s an emergency by asking a series of questions or guiding the caller to tap the handset in response to gain as much information as possible and arrange help if needed.

Sarah Durston, Head of Contact Centre for Surrey Police said: “Silent Solution is handled in the first instance by the Metropolitan Police, on behalf of UK police forces. They will transfer calls to Surrey Police if they have ascertained it is a genuine emergency, by questioning the caller and confirming the call is being made from a Surrey address or that the mobile is registered to an address in the county.

“We are unable to track the location of where calls are coming from so it is important to ensure your phone is registered. We don’t always send officers to silent calls so please give us as much information as you can. We’ll use other information to try and establish the identity of the caller such as locations and past history to ensure the correct response to the call is provided.

“If you are in an emergency situation, be guided by the operator and try to help us help you by listening clearly and responding in whichever way possible in the circumstances.

“As a reminder, we get 10,000+ abandoned calls a year. If you do accidentally dial 999, don't hang up - stay on the line to let the operator know it was a misdial so we don't need to return the call or send officers to check everything is ok.”

The IOPC-led campaign was launched yesterday as part of Stalking Awareness Week. If you are being stalked or harassed it is important that you report it. Stalkers are fixated and obsessive offenders who will not stop.

To download the IOPC, Make Yourself Heard ‘How to Guide’, click here

You can find further advice and support at https://www.surrey.police.uk/stalking

You can also report stalking or harassment online, or by calling 101 or in person at your local police station. If you are in immediate danger, always call 999. Our officers and staff will undertake a risk assessment and focus on keeping you safe.

If you would like further information about stalking or harassment, there are several organisations that specialise in providing advice and support to victims.

  • Veritas is a local organisation which provides advocacy and support for victims of stalking - http://veritas-justice.co.uk/stalking/
  • The National Stalking Helpline provides advice and guidance to current or previous victims of stalking or harassment. The helpline can be contacted on 0808 802 0300.
  • Paladin support high risk victims of stalking with their specialist Independent Stalking Advocacy Caseworkers (ISAC) and ensure that a coordinated community response is developed locally to protect victims. Contact them at 0207 840 8960 or info@paladinservice.co.uk
  • The Suzy Lamplugh Trust provides practical personal safety advice - http://www.suzylamplugh.org/ - 020 7091 0014.