What to do if you need to call 999 but can’t talk

What to do if you need to call 999 but can’t talk

If you’re in danger and cannot speak there is a service you can use. Picture: Getty

You never know when this may come in handy.

It’s hoped that you will never need to know this, but police are raising awareness of a service which is available should you be in danger but for some reason are not able to speak.

Police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) have launched a campaign called “Make Yourself Heard” to increase awareness of a system called Silent Solution.

Surprisingly the service has been in operation since 2002 but sadly many people still don’t know anything about it.

If you call 999 and the operator doesn’t get a response he or she will ask you to respond using a cough or other audible indication you need help.

If you are unable to make any sound at all, you will be put through to Silent Solution which will ask you to press 55 to be put through to your local police force.

The IOPC explains: “The BT operator will remain on the line and listen. If you press 55, they will be notified and transfer the call to the police. If you don’t press 55, the call will be terminated. Pressing 55 does not allow police to track your location.”

Using yes and no questions the police will then try and communicate. They add: “If you are unable to speak, listen carefully to the questions and instructions from the call handler so they can assess your call and arrange help if needed.”

Regional director Catrin Evans said: “It is always best to actually speak to a police call handler if you can, even if by whispering, but if you are putting yourself or someone else in danger by making a sound, there is something you can do.

“Make yourself heard by coughing, tapping the handset or – once prompted by the automated system – by pressing 55.”

You can also text the emergency services by sending an SMS message to the UK 999 service which is then passed onto the police, ambulance, fire rescue or coastguard.

However you can only do this is you register your phone number in advance so do this today as you never know if you may need it.

In order to do this text “register” to 999 and you will then receive a message confirming that you are on the system.

Then, in an emergency, you will need to text which service you require, explain the problem and give the location.

They say: “Give the name of the road, house number, postcode, or nearby landmark, if possible,”

You should then receive a response confirming help is on the way or asking for more information within two minutes. If after three minutes you have not had a reply you are advised to get help another way.

Around 5,000 of the 20,000 silent 999 calls made daily are put through to an automated system.

A police spokesperson said: “Please do not think that just because you dial 999 that police will attend.

“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.”


  • Mon 9:30 am – 12:30 pm – drop-in for support with log-ins and IT access etc.
  • Tue 9:30 am – 12:30 pm – drop-in for support with log-ins and IT access etc.
  • Tue 12:30 pm – 16:30 pm – Basic IT skills and setting up email addresses for UC.
  • Wed 12:30 pm – 16:30 pm – drop-in for support with log-ins and IT access etc.
  • Thu 12:30 pm – 16:30 pm – Basic IT skills
  • Fri 9:30 am – 12:30 pm – IT training
  • Fri 12:30 pm – 16:30 pm – ECDL course

The internet café is not a confidential space. In order to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation 2018, it is not a suitable venue for clients who cannot input their own personal information, or enable them to be copied, when making a claim or using their journal for queries, as conversations can be overheard. ‘Personal data’ is defined as:-

…any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person. (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/what-is-personal-data/what-is-personal-data/)

The internet café is, therefore, not a suitable place to discuss clients’ benefits, bank accounts, debt and money management problems, housing issues, or to read aloud or discuss, journal queries or responses to previous journal queries.

INTERNET CAFÉ – Tower House, 17 Tower Street, Ipswich IP1 3BE

AGM Invite 2018

You are cordially invited to the 45th Annual General Meeting of the Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau to be held on Wednesday 15th August 2018 at 6pm. To be held at our Internet Café 17 Tower St, Ipswich IP1 3BE.AGM invite 2018


generic money pictureIn this financial year we have assisted our clients to achieve an entitlement of £2,808,604.87 with a month to go. Also we have

  • consulted on Ipswich Borough Council developments
  • assisted Suffolk Police with mate crimes
  • opened an internet café and in conjunction with Radius Computing Limited achieved British Computer Society accreditation
  • assisted clients to get bus passes, blue badges and with numerous general enquiries; helping to improve their health and wellbeing and reduce isolation
  • dyslexia screening
  • assisted with Education Health and Care Forms, HC1 forms and many others in respect of fuel poverty, residency for benefits forms
  • equipment enquiries and wheelchair hire
  • signposting for legal support (hate crime etc.) health and care assessments and occupational care assessments
  • applied for food parcels and fuel vouchers
  • provided representation at 170 tribunals
  • participated in UK Parliament Week by holding an employment forum attended by Sandy Martin MP
  • continued our 6 year partnership with UK Power Networks
  • became members of the Tower House shared space user group
  • continued to run our outreaches and provide home visits for those who cannot attend our office and obtained funding for a further outreach in North West Ipswich

Parliament Week 13-19 November 2017

uk parliament week logo
In March 2017 Ipswich Disabled Advice Bureau was one of 4,500 organisations invited to take part in UK Parliament Week 2017. We focussed on events for our clients rather than public events with the aim of trying to get more to engage in democratic process, as we were aware that many to do vote in elections.

During the week we invited each of the clients who came to our office, or outreaches, to ask Parliament a written question on some UK Parliament Week headed paper – nearly half responded and we are currently trying to these answered.

click a photo for larger image

In addition, we organised a forum for our clients to come and take about their issues and views in respect of Disability and Employment. The discussion, which lasted two and a half hours, was recorded – both audio and video recordings were made. It began informally with the attendees talking amongst themselves, the next two hours were more formally structured and attended by our local MP, Sandy Martin.

The discussion was very lively with all participants talking about their experiences and ambitions, raising issues and, generally, contributing a lot of information. The discussion began with their schooling, then we found out that everyone present had gained qualifications since leaving school, most at Level 2, three at Level 6 (undergraduate) and one at Level 7 (postgraduate). Most had been employed and spoke about the work that they had done including, in a range of manufacturing companies, teaching, construction, engineering, retail, ancillary work in hospitals, clerical work, service in the RAF, as a civil servant, surveying for Anglian Water and serving refreshments on trains.

The forum also discussed barriers to returning back to work – changes in the work place with the loss of manufacturing in Ipswich and how the industries that had ‘replaced them’ need workers to have different abilities such as fast information processing; work programmes that do not look at options such as home working, that is safe and not an online con, as an option for getting back to work; the main focus being on reasonable adjustments for physical disabilities but not mental health issues, how machines and robots have taken over jobs previously done by people who now have to watch the machines and robots and the lack of job satisfaction that brings. Distances that now have to be travelled because much available employment is on retail and business parks on the edge of urban areas or even further out – and how this adds considerably to the length of the working day.

At the end of his time at the event Sandy Martin MP, explained to the forum how being a member of a Parliamentary Party assists in getting his constituents’ concerns raised in Parliament and used to influence policy making. The participants have asked for a second forum to be held, which is planned for late January/ early February 2018.