DEVON and Cornwall Police is calling on the public to tell them they are safe if they accidentally dial 999.
The force has seen a significant rise in the number of silent 999 calls it has been receiving in recent weeks.
These "silent calls" as they are named, can be where the person making the call is not aware they have done so, and the operator cannot hear anyone on the line.
Demand for the 999 service has risen over the last four weeks and as part of that, there has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of silent calls.
As an illustration of the numbers being dealt with, on Sunday, June 18, between 12am and 7pm, the force received 169 silent 999 calls.
Superintendent Matt Bourne, of Contact Resolution Command, said: “If you do accidentally dial 999, please don’t hang up. If possible, stay on the line and let the operator know it was an accident and that you don’t need any assistance.
“Silent calls to 999 are never just ignored. Contact Officers will need to spend valuable time trying to call you back to check whether you need help.”
Nationally, all emergency services are currently experiencing record high 999 call volumes, which is for a number of reasons, but it is believed that there has been a significant impact as a result of an update to Android smartphones.
The update, which was 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 but this seems to have inadvertently caused an increase in silent calls.
If you do dial 999 by mistake, please don’t hang up – just let Devon and Cornwall Police know it was an accident and that you don’t need assistance – it will save valuable time for the contact officer, who can then answer a genuine emergency call.
If you have an Android mobile telephone, 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.
As always, if a crime is in progress or if there is an immediate risk to person or property, always dial 999.
If a crime is not in progress, then please consider reporting the incident online via the police website in the first instance. Alternatively, you can call 101.