News story

112 - A brand of perfume or the number for emergency services in the EU?

New figures released today by the Foreign Office to mark European 112 Day reveal that most people do not know the number to call in the event of an emergency.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A survey of over 2,000 people across the UK found that only 14% know that dialling 112 will reach the emergency services and only 3% recognised it was the EU emergency number.

The European Commission created the European emergency number - 112 - to make it easier for people travelling within the European Union to access emergency services. The number works in all EU Member States and connects the caller to the local emergency services hotline.

Previous research carried out by the European Commission shows that the UK is one of three countries in Europe where awareness of the 112 emergency number is lowest*. When asked to state what the number 112 is for, over half of people surveyed by the FCO (51%) admitted they did not know, with 12% believing it connected them to directory enquiries. A range of other interesting definitions were offered with some believing it could be ‘a brand of perfume or aftershave’, ‘the number of a bus’ or as one person stated, ‘a pair of Levi jeans’.

Lynda St Cooke from the FCO’s Know Before You Go campaign said:

“Knowing that you can phone 112 can save you time in critical situations. It is an essential number which we would encourage everyone to carry with them when on holiday in Europe, just as they would carry contact details for their hotel or car rental company. With luck you will never have to use it, but being prepared means you don’t have to worry about the local number to call if you or your family find yourselves in an emergency situation.”

Updates to this page

Published 11 February 2012