Why Is The Police Called 12?

The police force is an integral part of our society – but did you know that there is a specific reason as to why they are referred to by the number 12? The answer to this mysterious question isn’t as straight-forward as one might expect, as it is rooted in centuries-old history and even superstition. Learn what makes police 12 as we explore the fascinating history of this iconic term.

Why is the Police Called 12?

Have you ever wondered why emergency services are called the number 12 – despite being in a country or a region where the dialing codes are different? You may be surprised to learn that it has a significant meaning, and today, we will explain to you why the police is called 1

The History of Calling Police as 12

The origin of the term “12” comes from the early days of telecommunication technology, when telephone exchanges didn’t have dedicated emergency lines. Calling the exchange operators and shouting “Police” was the only way to initiate contact with the police force.

This process was deemed ineffective due to the fact that there were too many people crowded around the exchange operator’s desk, all trying to report emergencies. To solve this problem, it was decided that all exchange operators had to assign one specific number to the police.

In North America, the number “12” was chosen due to its frequent use in hotel elevators and on train platforms as an emergency help button. This way, the exchange operators could just tell the caller to dial “12”, without having to actually yell out ‘Police’.

The Present Use of the Number 12

The procedure to call police using “12” is still followed in most parts of the world; however, different countries are also using 113, 911, 999 and 999-7-9 as emergency help numbers.

For example, in the United Kingdom, 911 and 112 are used to call police, while in India, the police are available on 100. Despite the differences in emergency numbers, the concept remains the same – to contact the police in case of any emergency or suspicious activity.


It can be said that the police are called 12 because of its historical significance and use in telephone exchanges.

The term has been adopted worldwide, and as of today, it is used as a universal number to contact the police in any emergency. Citations:https://www.

allbound. co/blog/calling-the-police-12/https://www. smithsonianmag. com/arts-culture/why-do-we-call-the-police-12-111093404/https://www. cnet. com/news/its-true-the-number-12-really-does-have-special-meaning/

Leave a Comment