If you’re in danger the first thing you do is call 999 – but that’s not always possible.
Whether you’re suffering from domestic abuse or you’re being threatened, picking up the phone to alert the police can be dangerous.
Recently, Yorkshire Police received what they thought was a prank call from a woman ordering pizza.
Thankfully the 999 operator realised she was talking in code. By asking ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions, they discovered that she feared the man sitting next to her on a bus was going to hurt her.
The clever code enabled officers to track the bus, stop it and arrest the man.
From ‘ordering pizza’ to a TikTok hand gesture, these discreet messages will get your voice heard in an emergency…
SOS phone signal
There’s not much our mobiles can’t do these days. Now, a touch of a button (on newer iPhone models) will call 999 and share your location with emergency services.
Just press and hold the side button and either the up or down volume button. An SOS slider will appear on the screen – drag your finger across it to call the police.
Or, by holding down the two buttons, a countdown will begin and sound a loud alert before calling 999 automatically.
Android phones have a similar feature installed – press the lock button three times to send a message and your location to a specific contact.
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Ask for Angela
You might have spotted ‘Ask for Angela’ posters in the loos at bars and restaurants across the country.
Lincolnshire County Council created the safety initiative and the Met Police picked it up in 2016.
If you feel unsafe, just approach venue staff and ask for ‘Angela’ – they’ll know you need urgent help.
A trained member of the team will help you find a friend, escort you to a taxi or even call the police if needed.
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TikTok hand gesture
With more and more young people taking to TikTok, this handy signal will be recognised around the world.
Simply extend your arm in front of you with your palm up, facing outwards. Fold in your thumb, then close your fingers over the top.
Doing this will tell passersby: “Violence at home – I need help – domestic abuse.”
Last year a 16 year old girl used the hand gesture to alert a passing driver that she was in danger.
The driver recognised the signal and called the police. The abductor was then arrested.
Say it with stickers
In certain hospital clinics, medical professionals can be alerted to domestic abuse by the use of stickers.
Whether you're at an antenatal appointment or visiting a sexual health clinic, a little red sticker can be added to your notes and action can be taken on your behalf so that you don't have to suffer in silence.
If you’re in immediate danger, talking might get you into more trouble.
Luckily, there’s the 999 Silent Solution system.
Since 2002, British emergency services have been aware that if you dial 999 and don’t talk, you could be in trouble.
The operator will ask you to cough or tap your phone to confirm it’s not a prank or accidental call.
They might also ask you to dial 55 to tell them if you’re in danger.
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