In June, Warwickshire Police received a total of 8,674 emergency 999 calls, of which 1,167 were abandoned 999 calls (more than one in ten).
An abandoned 999 call is when the line is disconnected before the caller speaks to a member of the emergency services or confirms to a BT 999 operator that they are safe and well.
There are lots of reasons someone may abandon a call. It could be a child accidentally calling 999 or someone calling in a crisis situation who hangs up once they realise another person is on the phone to the emergency services.
But the most common type of abandoned calls are caused by someone accidentally ‘pocket dialling’ emergency services. This is where the phone is not locked and accidently calls 999
Kim Perkin, Senior Public Contact Manager at Warwickshire Police, said: “When 999 is dialled accidentally, there are various checks and measures that need to be carried out by the call handler to assess whether the caller is in danger.
“If it is an accidental call, it can waste precious time that could otherwise be spent helping someone with an emergency and potentially saving a life.
“We understand that accidents happen, but we want people to be extra conscious that these mistakes could be putting other people at risk by tying up police resources. If you do realise you have dialled 999 accidentally please don’t hang up; stay on the line and the call handler can carry out checks to ensure you are safe and well. This saves us a lot of time.”
“The majority of smart phones have a feature to make an emergency call to the police easily, which means people can easily get the help they need when they’re in a genuine emergency. So we’re asking people to please just take a minute to check their phone settings, and reduce the chances of calling 999 accidentally.”
How can I reduce my risk of pocket dialling?
Android devices have a built in security app called ‘Smart Lock’ which automatically locks the device when it’s not around you and unlocks when it is. It is a simple process to disable this which will reduce the risk of you inadvertently pocket dialling Emergency SOS or other individuals. This will not disable the function to dial emergency SOS. Follow the steps below to disable this feature:
1. Open Settings 2. Go to Lock Screen and Security Folder 3. Click ‘Secure lock settings’ 4. Located at the bottom, you will find ‘Smart Lock’. Open this. 5. If ‘On-Body Detection’ is enabled, simply disable.
iOS devices are even easier to choose what features can and cannot be used whilst the device is locked. Follow the steps below to amend your settings: 1. Open Settings 2. Open ‘Touch ID & Passcode folder’ 3. Scroll down to the field name ‘allow access when locked’ 4. Enable/Disable the features.
iOS users can also rapidly click the sleep/wake button five times to quickly call emergency services. Follow the steps below to disable the settings for auto-calling:
1. Open Settings 2. Open Emergency SOS 3. Disable Auto Call.
Apple Watch users also have the ability to automatically dial emergency services by holding down the side button on the device. You can change your settings so that holding the side button won’t call emergency services automatically:
1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap the ‘My Watch’ tab. 2. Tap Emergency SOS 3. Turn off Hold Side Button.
If this setting is disabled, you can still use the Emergency SOS slider to make a call.