999 and 112: the UK's national emergency numbers

999 and 112 is the national emergency response service in the UK. 112 is the pan-European equivalent to 999 and can be used in the UK.

Calling for assistance

Calls made using 999 or 112 are identified and prioritised by the communications providers and forwarded to, and then answered by, call handling agents in one of 7 call-handling centres. The call-handling centres are owned by BT Plc, who operate the service on behalf of all the communications providers (mobile, fixed line and broadband). An agent at one of the BT Plc call-handling centres responds with “emergency, which service?”. The geographic location of the caller, which is normally automatically available, enables the call to be transferred to the relevant geographically located emergency service control room.

Ofcom, the independent communications regulator, oversees regulation of the telecommunications aspects of the 999-112 service through the General Conditions of Entitlement.

The statistics - 2023

41.9 million 999/112 calls a year, of which:

79% from mobile

15% from landline

134,000 eCalls (included in mobile %)

Service Percentage of calls
Police 57%
Ambulance 40%
Fire 3%
Coastguard <1%

7 BT call centres.

142 local emergency services control rooms.

The 999-112 Liaison Committee

Technical and operational oversight of the Service is provided by the 999-112 Liaison Committee, hosted by the Department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT), previously Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport (DCMS). The terms of reference of the Committee can be found here below.

The Committee represents all organisations that have a role to play in delivering and managing the 999-112 service, these include: The Home Office, Department for Health & Social Care, the emergency services, Ofcom as the telecommunications regulatory body and the fixed and mobile communications providers.

The Committee also oversees sub-groups responsible for specific areas such as access to the service by vulnerable members of society, such as those with hearing impairments and the role played by emergency calls activated by smartphones. The Committee also has responsibility for the Code of Practice for the Public Emergency Call Service (PECS) between communications providers and the emergency services. This document outlines the key roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved in the conveyance of emergency calls from caller to the relevant emergency service.

Who to contact for more information

Enquiries regarding Police and Fire - please contact the Home Office:

Enquiries regarding Ambulance - please contact the Department of Health & Social Care:

Enquiries regarding HM Coastguard - please contact the Department for Transport via this form.

Enquiries regarding 999/112 connections or BT Call Handler queries - please contact the Department for Science Innovation and Technology:

Updates to this page

Published 12 August 2021
Last updated 18 January 2024 + show all updates
  1. Updated stats for 2023 and contact details for HM Coastguard replacing Maritime & Coastguard Agency.

  2. Update to number of call-handling centres and DHSC contact information, and correction to year of reported statistics.

  3. Updated stats for 2022.

  4. Updated contact emails.

  5. First published.

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