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Smartphones are amazing devices. From making calls and exploring the internet to gaming and entertainment apps, it’s like a little computer in your pocket. Your phone is a vital tool, should you find yourself in an emergency or quickly need to get hold of important information, should you know the right numbers to call.
Here are 12 useful (and in some cases, life-saving) telephone numbers that everyone in the UK should know.
Yes, almost all UK numbers are 11 digits long, including the dialling codes. There are a few areas around the country whose numbers only contain 10 digits, but these are in the minority. The combinations of UK numbers are:
BT launched their Speaking Clock service in July 1936 – a useful service in the days before you could just unlock the screen on your phone to check the time. Although it may no longer be seen by some as a useful service, you can still call the speaking clock and it is still used by many people, with around 30 million calls received annually. It can be a useful tool for those you are visually impaired or those who want to check the accuracy of their clocks.
The Speaking Clock is not a free service. It costs 50p a minute from BT landlines any time of day or night.
A withheld number is a number that isn’t visible to the person that is receiving the call. If you don’t want the receiver of your call to see your identity, for example: if you were calling back a number you don’t recognise and want to be careful, then you can call 142 to withhold your details. When the call appears on the recipient’s phone, your name won’t display and instead ‘Unknown’ will appear on the caller ID – even if they dial 1471 (the service that reveals caller numbers).
Dialling the number 1471, will reveal the number of the last call you received, unless they have opted with withhold it or the call came from a switchboard extension number. You can also return the call straight away by dialling 3 at the end of 1471. I’s free to use 1471 to find out the last number who called you, but it costs 35p charge plus the cost of the call, if you choose to return it.
There isn’t a specific way to reveal a withheld number, as this number is designed to hide the identity of the caller. If you are being harassed by an unknown number, you can block them through your telephone service provider.
It’s best practice to avoid answering a call from an unknown number. It’s unusual for a number from a legitimate organisation to be withheld, so when you receive a call from a withheld number, it’s more than likely a scam. If you do happen to pick up a call from a number that does not display caller ID, it’s better to hang up as soon as you can, as this call may be charged at an extreme rate or anything you say when you answer the call may be used maliciously.
Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way for a person or a business to identify the origin of a call made with no caller ID, if the caller has purposely withheld the information. If you are worried about a call with no caller ID, it may be possible for law enforcement agencies to trace the call if you report it, but unfortunately there are no guarantees that they will be able to identify who it is. If you receive harassing or threatening calls you should always report them to the police.
The world’s oldest emergency telephone number, 999 was first introduced in London in 1937. Dialling 999 will take you through to one of the following emergency control centres: police, ambulance, fire or coastguard. Additional services can also be reached via the number. These include: lifeboat, mountain rescue, lowland rescue, cave rescue, moorland search and rescue, quicksand search and rescue, mine rescue and bomb disposal. If you have a speech or hearing impediment, you can sign up to the emergency SMS service. To do this, text “register” to 999 and follow the instructions.
The Silent Solution offers a solution when you are in an emergency situation and you require police assistance, but are unable to speak. It was introduced to filter out accidental or hoax 999 calls and to offer a solution to certain situations, where the caller speaking may put them or others in danger. This process applies for calls made via mobile phones. When you dial 999, you will hear an automated police message that lasts for 20 seconds and starts with “you are through to the police”. It will ask you o press 55 to be put through to police call management. When you press 55 the operator will be notified and you will be transferred through to the police. Once transferred, the police call handler will attempt to communicate with you through ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. If you are still unable to speak, then the call handler will assess your call and provide instruction and arrange help, if needed.
Due to the likelihood of a 999 call being made by accident via landlines, the silent solution is not used. If an emergency call is placed via a landline and the caller doesn’t speak, answer any questions or only background noise can be heard and the operator cannot decide whether an emergency service is required, then the call will be connected to a police call handler. If you replace the handset, the call may still be connected for 45 seconds, in case the caller picks it up again. When calls are made from a landline, information about the caller’s location should be available to the call handler to provide a response. There is no need to dial 55 after 999, as this process is automatic.
101 is the national non-emergency police phone number. You can use 101 when you need the police but not an emergency response. As such, use 101 if you’ve had a minor traffic accident, for vandalised property, if your car has been stolen, if you suspect someone of drug dealing, if you’ve witnessed a crime, if you’ve seen a missing person or if you want to speak to a local officer.
Calls to 101 cost 15p per call.
NHS 111 is a free to call number that you can phone if you need urgent medical assistance, that isn’t an emergency issue. A fully-trained advisor will direct you to the best place for you to get help, if you cannot contact your GP of if your GP is closed. You should call 111 to speak to someone if you need to:
Depending on your needs, you may be advised to:
Samaritans offer a safe place to talk any time you like, on your own terms. The service was founded in 1953 in London by a vicar called Chad Varah who wanted to help people in distress and had nowhere else to turn. More than 20,000 people volunteered for the Samaritans in 2017, and a call is made to the service every six seconds.
Calls placed to the Samaritans are not shown on phone bills.
Childline is a free, private and confidential service for children in distress. Aimed at anyone under the age of 19, Childline offers a counselling service that is non-judgemental, isn’t easily surprised, gives children time, understands the issues kids face today and is open and friendly.
Calls placed to the ChildLine are not shown on phone bills.
Operated by SGN, the gas emergency number is a toll-free number for people who smell gas or are worried about a gas emergency. The SGN agent will ask a series of questions to ascertain the severity of the situation, before offering advice and sending help when it is required.
Different countries have different emergency numbers. This can be an issue for frequent travellers or those travelling through multiple countries. Luckily, so long as you’re travelling in one of the 127 countries which use it, you only need to remember one: 112. Handy!
Ok, so everyone may not need to know this number and we can’t help you if your toaster starts a fire in your office or if somebody has stolen your company car. However, we can help you if you need assistance finding the right technology solutions for your business. Whether it’s choosing the best business phone number, finding a business phone system that suits your need or improving your IT solutions, Elite Group are here to help. Our team of specialists will provide advice and support to help you find the right solutions and to help you get the most out of them.