Woman ‘in trouble’ rescued after calling 999 to ‘order a pizza’



A vulnerable woman who called 999 and asked to order a pizza was rescued by police after a quick-thinking call handler established she was in danger from a man who was with her.

Police in North Yorkshire received the emergency call on April 5 – but when the phone operator answered, the woman on the line said she would like to order a pizza. Guessing that something might be wrong, the call handler asked the woman if she was in trouble, to which she answered ‘yes.’

The distressed caller wasn’t able to give answers other than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions. Even so, the operator managed to ascertain that the woman was on a bus with a man she feared might harm her. While keeping her on the phone, the call handler was able to text the woman vital information.

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Thanks to their efforts, police officers managed to locate the bus using an online tracker, and managed to stop the vehicle in the York area. A 40-year-old man from Leeds was arrested in connection with the incident. He was subsequently released with no further action, but the woman has been provided with safeguarding and support.

North Yorkshire Police were congratulated for their “superb empathy and professionalism” after posting a thread about the incident on Twitter. The force wrote: “When a call ‘to order pizza’ becomes an urgent plea for help. We received a 999 call – but when it was answered, the woman on the line said she would like to order a pizza. Our call handler immediately asked the woman if she was in trouble, to which she confirmed ‘yes.'”

“With the woman only able to answer ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to questions, we established she was on a bus in North Yorkshire, and was at risk of harm from a man who was with her. While keeping the phone line open, the call handler was able to text her more information.

“We managed to locate the bus using an online tracker, and bring it to a stop. A 40-year-old man from Leeds was arrested in connection with the incident. He remains in custody at this time.” In the thread, the police officer also posted information about what to do if you’re in trouble.

“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 handler. It’s always best to speak to an operator if you can, even by whispering.

“You may also be asked to cough or tap keys on your phone in response to questions. 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.”

The call handler’s efforts were praised by dozens of people on social media. One woman said on Twitter: “Your call handler acted with superb empathy and professionalism.” Another wrote: “How wonderful to hear a positive police related story for a change. Really hope that courageous lady is okay.”

Another man said: “Well done to all involved especially the victim who managed to stay rational and calm despite her terrible order. Well done to the call handler too who immediately realized what might be wrong – training or instict, it doesn’t matter. Share so others can learn what to do.”

Another woman wrote: “This is excellent, well done those call handlers and the officers who reached the woman before harm was done, you should be very proud. Another said: “And some people berate the police for “being useless…” this was handled professionally, compassionately, and with great care. The call to order pizza is a great idea to help people in danger. Well done to the call handler.”

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.”




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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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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