Police rescue woman who dialed 999 and ‘asked for pizza’

Police have revealed how a quick-thinking emergency call handler bassisted a woman who called 999 and “asked for a pizza” as a plea for help.

On Tuesday evening, the woman – who has not been identified – felt worried about her safety while traveling alone on a bus.

She called the force, who explained that “when [the call] was answered, the woman on the line said she would like to order a pizza.”

Luckily, the operator realized that she was in danger.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the force said: “The police call handler immediately asked the woman if she was in trouble, to which she confirmed ‘yes’.”

The woman was unable to elaborate on any details, but went on to answer the call handler’s ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions until the police could work out where she was located.

They also figured out that she felt at risk from a man who was traveling on the same bus as her.

The force added: “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 relation to the incident, and was subsequently released with no further action, whilst the woman was offered 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.”

Social media users were quick to congratulate the handler for their actions in keeping the women safe, calling them an “unsung hero”.

One person said: “This is excellent, well done those call handlers and the officers who reached the woman before harm was done, you should be very proud.”

A second person said: “Well done to that call handler. A role with so much pressure to move on to the next call, they listened, took time and understood the assignment. Great job.”

Another tweeted: “I accidentally set my emergency call off on my iPhone and hung up quickly when I realized I was calling 999. Got a call back within a minute checking I was ok. I was very embarrassed but it felt great to know that happens.”

In a Twitter thread, North Yorkshire Police explained their call handling process.

It wrote: “All 999 calls are directed to call centers and answered by BT operators. They’ll 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.”

The police went on to advise that it’s “always best to speak to the operator if you can, even by whispering. If you can’t you may also be asked to cough or tap the keys on your phone in response to questions.”

The force added: “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.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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