Police are seeking to end the myth that silently calling 999 when you are in danger and cannot speak will bring help to you – and want you to know how this can actually be done.
The Silent Solution system lets a 999 mobile caller who is scared for their safety, or unable to make a noise, to press 55 when prompted.
Around 5,000 silent calls are transferred to the Silent Solution system but the 55 instruction is detected roughly only 50 times a day.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said the system is only effective if the public understands how it works and are launching the Make Yourself Heard campaign on Monday to raise awareness.
This campaign, which coincides with National Stalking Awareness Week, is supported by the family of murder victim Kerry Power.
Ms Power made her silent 999 call in the early hours of December 14, 2013, when her ex-partner and stalker broke into her home.
She did not respond to the BT operator’s instructions and her call was transferred to the Silent Solution system.
As 55 was not pressed, the call was terminated and Devon and Cornwall Police were not notified of Ms Power’s call.
Her ex-partner David Wilder called police later that morning to report he had strangled her.
Ms Power’s family say that because the “happy and fun-loving” mother did not know that simply calling 999 and not speaking will not automatically alert the police, no help came for her.
The said: “Although she [Ms Power] was not able to speak for the fear of alerting the intruder to her actions, she followed the advice given by a police officer during an earlier visit; that she could call and not speak, as the police held her details they would be alerted and attend.
“Unbeknown to Kerry, this was fiction and nobody came… a short while after the call, she was strangled.”
If they can, callers should listen and respond to questions and instructions, including by whispering, coughing or tapping the handset if possible, or if using a mobile phone once prompted by the automated Silent Solution system, pressing 55.
IOPC 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.
“We found from our investigation into police contact with Kerry that there is a lack of public awareness of the Silent Solution system and are keen to share this important information as widely as possible.
“It could potentially save a life.”