Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

This is how to contact the police when you’re too scared to speak out loud


In the immediate aftermath of the devastating Manchester Arena attack, Theresa May raised the terror threat level to ‘critical’, warning that another incident could be imminent.

Officials at M15 have stressed that an increased threat level does not mean that members of the public have to do anything other than remain vigilant. And crucially, events like the Manchester bombing are still relatively rare. Only two terrorist atrocities have taken place in the UK over the last decade, despite the official terror threat level being “severe” for almost all of that time.

However, it’s always important to be aware of how best to react in a dangerous situation – whether that be a terrorist incident or a burglary.

Read more: Lucy Mangan: Tragic events have the ability to unite us

Metro has published details of the British police’s Silent Solutions procedure, which allows people to call police or other emergency services in situations when it might not be safe to make any noise.


The Silent Solutions procedure was devised to allow people to contact police without speaking.

When a caller dials 999, an operator will ask which emergency service they require: police, ambulance service or fire brigade.

If the caller doesn’t say anything, the operator will ask them to cough or make another noise, like a tap on the handset.

Read more: Five easy ways to curb your daily anxieties

However, in some situations, it might be too risky for the caller to make any noise at all – for example, if they are hiding from an attacker.

In these situations, the police request that callers simply dial 55, to alert the operator to the fact that no, they haven’t just called 999 accidentally – and yes, they do need urgent help.


People caught up in terror attacks are often unable to speak to police on the phone for fear of alerting their attackers.

In November 2016, a primary school worker from Plymouth was murdered by her ex-boyfriend after she made a silent 999 call. Kerry Power, 36, was too afraid to speak after David Wilder broke into her home – but was not aware of the Silent Solutions procedure, and didn’t press 55. As a result, her call was not transferred to police.

After Power was killed, a police spokesman said that emergency services do not have the resources to investigate every silent 999 call, in part because so many of them are hoaxes or accidental dials. For that reason, it’s crucial that awareness is spread about the existence of the Silent Solutions procedure.

“Please do not think that just because you dial 999 that police will attend,” they said. “We totally understand that sometimes people are unable or too afraid to talk, however it must be clear that we will not routinely attend a silent 999 call.

“There must be some indication that the call has not been mis-dialled.”

Spread the word.

Images: iStock, Rex Features


bataclan attack letter manchester.jpg

Bataclan survivor offers words of hope to Manchester attack witnesses


Part of the brain that causes fear identified by scientists

Ched Evans.jpg

Ched Evans wants you to drink less to avoid being raped



“How Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington gave my generation a voice"

The musician leaves a lasting legacy

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Jul 2017

The grossly sexist ads we can’t believe exist in the 21st century

From a Co-op egg to that deeply offensive Protein World poster

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Jul 2017

How your Love Island obsession is wreaking havoc with your health

Experts have genuinely issued a warning…

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Jul 2017

Boots won’t cut morning-after pill price because we can’t be trusted

Cheaper emergency contraception? Unprotected sex party at ours, everyone!

by Amy Swales
21 Jul 2017

Did Japan’s First Lady pretend not to speak English to ignore Trump?

Akie Abe, we salute you.

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Jul 2017

This 'Beer For Her' has managed to offend everyone on Twitter

Apparently womankind can only ever drink from pink receptacles

by Megan Murray
21 Jul 2017

This Instagram account is aiming to break the miscarriage taboo

Women are coming together to share their stories of loss

by Megan Murray
21 Jul 2017

Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who salary revealed after gender pay gap row

And it may surprise you…

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Jul 2017

Quiz: which famous duo are you and your work wife?

It’s time to find out, once and for all, who you and your work wife really are…

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Jul 2017

You’ve been making your tea wrong this whole time, reveal tea experts

Wait, what?

by Jasmine Andersson
20 Jul 2017