The Police Service of Northern Ireland has introduced an initiative aimed at making it easier for non-English speakers to make a 999 emergency call.
Now if a caller is placed on hold because they cannot be understood, a multi-language ‘please hold’ message will be heard. While the caller listens to the message, the operator, as before, arranges for an interpreter. The initiative is the first of its kind in the UK.
Explaining the reasoning behind its introduction, Inspector Peter Gill said: “Previously, when a non-English speaking caller dialled 999 and was connected to the police, they would be placed on hold while an interpreter was brought into the call. “This could take longer than 20 seconds and often the caller would hang-up and make repeated calls due to hearing silence. “When a 999 operator cannot determine the reason for an emergency call it is, by default, passed to the police so it is vitally important that all members of society are able to access our services.”