This article was originally published in Edward Fennell’s Legal Diary Blog, and can be found here.
Whilst everyone knows how to dial 999 how many of our clients who suffer from domestic violence know about the 55 “silent solution” within it? It is a vital additional layer of protection that as solicitors we all need to make sure our clients are aware of, particularly during the lockdown.
The ‘Silent Solution’ is a system that alerts the police to 999 mobile callers who are in need of emergency assistance but are too scared or unable to speak.
After calling 999 from a mobile, the call operator will ask the caller which emergency service they need. If the line remains silent, the operator may ask a series of questions and suggest that the caller tap the handset, cough or make a noise by way of response. If the caller remains silent and if the call operator cannot decide whether an emergency service is needed, they will forward the call to the ‘Silent Solution’ system. This is a Police automated message that begins with ‘you are through to the police…’ and lasts approximately 20 seconds. The message requests that the caller press 55 to be put through to the Police. If the caller does not press 55 the call will be terminated. It is therefore vital that victims of domestic violence are made aware that in an emergency situation they must press ‘55’, to ensure that the Police are notified of the call.
If 55 is pressed, the call will be transferred to the caller’s local Police force, where a call handler will try to communicate with the caller by asking simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions.
It is important to note that the system does not apply to 999 calls made from a landline. If a victim of domestic violence calls from a landline without specifying the emergency service required and the caller does not answer the operator’s questions, the call will be connected to the Police and, unlike a mobile call, the caller’s location can usually be traced.