What happens when you call the police?

We receive approximately 400,000 calls each year, and around 85,000 of these are emergency 999 calls.

Our Force Control Room (FCR) answers all calls to Lincolnshire Police.  The FCR is based at Police Headquarters in Nettleham, near Lincoln.

Emergency calls - 999

In an emergency, always dial 999.

This number is a 24 hour service and you should only use it in situations where there is:

  • danger to life
  • use, or immediate threat of use, of violence 
  • a crime in progress 
  • serious injury to a person  
  • an offender that has just been disturbed at the scene  
  • a need for immediate police attendance such as when a crime is about to be committed

When you ring 999, the BT operator will ask you which emergency service you need and the number you are calling from.   They will transfer your call to the Force Control Room in Nettleham.  The BT operator will inform the call taker of the telephone number you are calling from.

The call taker will ask you the location of the emergency and what the emergency is. They will then take your details. This process may take time but it is important to get the correct information from you to make sure we resource your call appropriately.

It is important to only dial 999 in an emergency. Call takers will advise you to contact the non-emergency number (101) if your call isn’t an emergency.  This will enable us to deal with genuine emergencies.

Making a 999 call if you are unable to talk

There may come a time when you need to call 999 but talking may put you or others in more danger.

Silent Solutions is a system whereby you can make a silent 999 call.

When you call 999 you will be connected to a BT operator.  They will guide you through the process and you will be asked to 55.  Doing this will inform the call taker that your call is genuine.  They will keep the line open and will investigate your call further.

Watch our short video below for further explanation.

Non-emergency calls – 101

The non-emergency number is 101. This is also a 24 hour service.

If you ring Lincolnshire Police between 0800-2200, a switchboard operator will answer the call.  Outside of these hours, a call taker will answer it.

If you know the extension you need you can input this direct.

A switchboard operator will:

  • Transfer you to the department or extension number you need.
  • Transfer you to a call taker who may create an incident.

A call taker will:

  • Create an incident if appropriate and record the circumstances of your call.
  • Assess the nature of the call and determine an appropriate grading. This will inform the response.
  • Give you the incident number and the grading.
  • Assign a diary appointment or arrange a call back from a police officer.
  • Transfer the incident to a controller to resource, if a policing resource is to be deployed.

 A controller will:

  • Resource incidents with the appropriate resources.  This could be special constables, PCSOs, police officers or specialist officers such as dog handlers, firearms officers or scenes of crime officers.
  • Carry out necessary intelligence checks on police databases to support that deployment.
  • At times they may ring you back to gain further information before the officers arrive.

Where attendance is not deemed necessary, we will deal with some calls over the phone. The Incident Resolution Team (IRT) and the Crime Management Bureau (CMB) may record a crime report over the phone.  This will depend on the nature of what you are reporting.

Using 101 to call us from outside Lincolnshire

To call a police force in a county other than the one in which you are located, dial 101 and listen to the full message which will state:

“Thank you for calling 101.  We are connecting you to [County of origin] Police, if you require a different Police force please press hash (#)”

You will then be asked to say the force that you need, followed with a confirmation“yes”.

What we will ask when you report an incident

When you contact us to report an incident, we will ask you:

  • Your name
  • The number you are calling from
  • The location of the incident
  • Your address and contact number
  • Your date of birth
  • What has happened, who was involved, when did it happen, where did it happen, how has it happened?

Take your time to answer the questions as correctly and as clearly as possible. We need as much information as possible.  This is so that officers are aware of the circumstances and of any risks to ensure the safety of the public and officers.

How we grade incidents

We grade incidents into the following categories:


An urgent response will be required where it is assessed that there is a heightened risk associated with the incident. It will qualify as an emergency
contact if any of the criteria set out below are satisfied:

- An emergency contact encompasses circumstances where an incident is reported to the Police which is taking place and in which there is, or is likely to be a risk of:

  • Danger to life
  • Use, or immediate threat of use, of violence
  • Serious injury to a person and/or
  • Serious damage to property

- Where the contact relates to an allegation of criminal conduct, it will be dealt with as an emergency if:

  • The crime is, or is likely to be serious and in progress
  • An offender has just been disturbed at the scene
  • An offender has been detained and poses, or is likely to pose a risk to other people
  • Important evidence may be lost

- Where the contact relates to a traffic collision it will be dealt with as an emergency if:

  • It involves or is likely to involve serious personal injury
  • The road is blocked or there is a dangerous or excessive build-up of traffic

- Where the above circumstances do not apply a contact will still be classified as an emergency if:

  • The circumstances are such that a police call taker has strong and objective reasons for believing that the incident should be classified as an emergency, the call handler will immediately refer the incident to a supervisor or FCR Inspector for assessment
  • An emergency contact will require immediate response in line with specific attendance policies, for example where a critical register marker dictates an urgent response


A priority response will be required where the Police call taker acknowledges that there is a degree of importance associated with the initial Police action, but where an urgent response is not required.

Guiding criteria for grading any incident as a Priority response is as follows:

  • There is a genuine concern for somebody’s safety, but no immediate danger to life
  • An offender has been detained and is compliant
  • A witness or other evidence is likely to be lost
  • At a road traffic collision which does not involve serious injury or dangerous or excessive build-up of traffic
  • A person involved is suffering extreme distress or is otherwise deemed to be extremely vulnerable

Such incidents require a prompt response but do not usually necessitate the use of emergency sound and light equipment.


A routine response is required when the call taker assesses that the needs of the caller can be met by use of the ‘Diary Appointment System’ under the following circumstances:

  • Any incident where a Police response is required but an Urgent or Priority response is not necessary
  • The response time is not critical in apprehending offenders
  • A more proportionate, better quality and more victim focussed response can be taken if it is dealt with by a pre-arranged appointment with an
    appropriate Police resource at a time suitable to the caller. This appointment will be at a police station. Where certain exemptions apply police will attend the home address but not within the diary system.

Hoax calls

We do unfortunately receive hoax and nuisance calls. It is illegal to make hoax calls.  Doing this puts lives at risk by preventing us from answering genuine emergency calls. We will prosecute persons who intentionally misuse the communications systems.

More information

For more information about the 101 number visit:


Making a silent 999 call

How you can make an emergency call if you are unable to speak

Transcription of Making a silent 999 call

09 Mar 21 9:17 AM

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