UK emergency numbers

Seen a crime? Been mugged or your home broken into? Do you call 999? We talk you through the emergency number and who to call when.

Calling 999

Who ya gonna call?

When do you call 999?

In an emergency, but what’s that? The police say you should call 999 if:

  • You’ve been mugged, badly hurt or attacked in anyway
  • If you see any serious crime taking place
  • If there’s a chance the criminal is still nearby

Your call should be answered within ten seconds.

Police, ambulance, or fire?

When your call is first answered you will be speaking to an operator who will ask you which service you require. The operator will connect you to the service you request. The operator stays on the line with the caller until satisfied that communication has been established. Once you’re connected to the police there are two things they’ll want to know straight away:

  • The exact location the police are required
  • Why do you want the police?

You will also be asked for your name and the number that you’re calling from.

What’s the international emergency number?

Call 112 if you’re not in the UK and you’ll be put through to the appropriate emergency service in exactly the same way as if you had called 999. Available everywhere in the EU, as well as certain countries outside the EU, such as Switzerland and South Africa, 112 is a standardised number that’s worth remembering if you’re travelling abroad.

Calling from a mobile

Calls to 999 or 112 are free on all mobile phones. You can even call these numbers when you have no credit and can’t make any calls. Additionally, they’ll work across networks, so even if you don’t have a signal if the phone can pick up another network it will use that. (But obviously if it can’t get any signal then it won’t work.)

Hoax calls

Not only are you endangering the lives of others, you could face prosecution. Think before you make that ‘there’s a bomb in my school‘ (I want to wag off classes) call.

Non-emergency situations — call 101

If you want to report a crime to the police but it’s not an emergency the number to call is 101.

You can call the non-emergency number for:

  • Vandalism, graffiti and other deliberate damage to property
  • Noisy neighbours
  • Threatening and abusive behaviour
  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Rubbish and litter, including fly tipping
  • Drunk or rowdy behaviour in public places
  • Drug-related anti-social behaviour
  • Problems with street lighting

Calling 999 image by Shutterstock

Next Steps

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015