112 Emergency Phone Number Hoax

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen this, or something very similar, posted and reposted to a number of Facebook accounts:

“I know you don’t all live in Dorset but a mobile is a mobile where ever you live. I didn’t know about 112 did you? A bit of useful advice – verified by the Dorset Police. The number does work from a mobile. … This actually happened to someone’s daughter. Lauren was 19 yrs old and in college. This story takes place over the Christmas and New Year holiday break. It was the Saturday before New Year and it was about 1.00pm in the afternoon and Lauren was driving to visit a friend, when an UNMARKED police car pulled up behind her and put its lights on. Lauren’s parents have 4 children (of various ages) and have always told them never to pull over for an unmarked car on the side of the road, but rather wait until they get to a service station, etc. Remembering her parents’ advice, Lauren telephoned 112 from her mobile phone. This connected her to the police dispatcher. She told the dispatcher that there was an unma…rked car with a flashing blue light behind her and that she would not pull over then but wait until she was in a service station or busy area. The dispatcher checked to see if there was a police car where she was and there wasn’t. He told her to keep driving, remain calm and that he had back-up already on the way. Ten minutes later 4 police cars surrounded her and the unmarked car behind her. One policeman went to her side and the others surrounded the car behind. They pulled the guy from the car and tackled him to the ground. The man was a convicted rapist and wanted for other crimes. I never knew that bit of advice, but especially for a woman alone in a car, you do not have to pull over for an UNMARKED car. Apparently police have to respect your right to keep going to a ‘safe’ place. You obviously need to make some signals that you acknowledge them I.e. Put on your hazard lights, or call 112, as Lauren did. What a pity that the mobile phone companies don’t give you this little bit of wonderful information. So now it’s your turn to let your friends know about 112 (112 is an emergency number on your mobile that takes you straight to the police because 999 does not work if you have no signal). This is good information that I did not know! Please pass on to all your friends, especially any females. As far as I am aware, 112 uses a system called triangulation so they can also pinpoint exactly where you are phoning from. READ IT THEN PASS IT ON DON’T JUST DELETE – IMPORTANT” IT COULD SAVE A LIFE”

Unfortunately this is a hoax, Lauren has been calling 112, or 667 when she originated in the US, for a while.

Whilst it is true that 112 is an emergency number and your location can be passed to the emergency services using mobile network triangulation ( it’s part of an EU directive ) the same is also true of 999 in the UK. What is absolutely, completely untrue is that dialling 112 from a mobile will connect you to the emergency services even if you do not have a network signal. (UPDATE 28/04/2014: What actually happens when you dial 112 – and this is the difference between 112 and 999 – is that the phone can use any available network to complete the emergency call. So it could grab an available Vodafone network instead of, say, the Three network you might usually use. 112 is also a standard international emergency number throughout the EU and Canada. However it is important to remember, particularly in remote locations, that there may not be any network coverage.) No mobile can make or receive calls of any kind without a network signal. To call via satellite, you need a satellite phone not a mobile.

Frankly, this is dangerous misinformation and scaremongering and is actually more likely to cost a life in genuine emergency while people monkey with their mobiles instead of looking for a landline.

On a personal note, whoever wrote the original myth is a bit of a sick bastard in my opinion, as its sole purpose appears to be to scare and wind-up people, especially women.

So if you see this, or know someone who has been sent it, spread the word it’s a hoax.

A simple Google search can debunk most of these urban myths before they get recirculated.