Police 999 call ‘to order pizza’ becomes urgent plea for help
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A quick-thinking police staff member was able to secure immediate support for a vulnerable woman, after she surreptitiously called for help.
Yesterday evening, North Yorkshire Police received a 999 call – but when it was answered, the woman on the line said she would like to order a pizza.
The police call handler immediately asked the woman if she was in trouble, to which she confirmed “yes”.
With the woman only able to answer “yes” and “no” to questions, police established she was on a bus in North Yorkshire, and was at risk of harm from a man who was with her. While keeping the phone line open, the call handler was also able to text her for more information.
Officers managed to locate the bus using an online tracker, and stop it in York.
A 40-year-old man from Leeds was arrested in connection with the incident. He was subsequently released with no further action, although the woman has been provided with safeguarding and support.
Inspector Dan Spence, Force Incident Manager in North Yorkshire Police’s Control Room, said: “This was really good work by everyone involved, allowing us to take immediate action to safeguard a vulnerable woman. I’m aware of people using the ‘pizza ordering’ technique abroad to contact the police, but I cannot recall a similar call in North Yorkshire.”
All 999 calls are directed to call centres and answered by BT operators. They will ask which service you need. If no service is requested but anything suspicious is heard throughout the process, the operator will connect you to a police call handler.
It is always best to speak to the operator if you can, even by whispering. You may also be asked to cough or tap the keys on your phone in response to questions.
The police call handler will attempt to communicate with you by asking simple yes or no questions. If you are not able to speak, listen carefully to the questions and instructions from the call handler so we can assess your call and arrange help if needed.