A friend of mine recently posted about the following situation:

Alice is on public transport when she is approached by Bob, who asks her unwanted questions (e.g. where do you live, do you want to go out with me this weekend, etc). Alice attempts to avoid Bob by alighting, but Bob alights as well and keeps talking. Can Alice call the police? What about an uninvolved third party? If it matters, Bob is unarmed and the country is Singapore.

My original inclination is "yes". However it looks like calling the police worldwide should only be done in emergency situations, e.g. the Singapore police website says one should only dial 999 when a crime is in progress, someone is hurt or in danger, and so on. Bob in this situation hasn't actually become violent, and while Alice is understandably frightened, she isn't actually in danger.

If the answer is "no", how should Alice shake off Bob? "Walk to a police station" seems like the obvious answer, but there might not be one nearby.

  • Many communities have an equivalent (such as 311) for semi-emergency situations. The best way is to call the local police precinct and ask. Sometimes you will be told to call 911 anyway and sometimes you will be given an alternate number. Jan 11, 2018 at 0:23
  • I’m not sure if you’re only asking about Singapore, but in the United States, you can call your local police department at their office (non-emergency) number (I keep this contact on my phone) or you can call 911 (emergency) and as for a “peace check” lest the situation escalate further. Jan 11, 2018 at 2:03
  • 1
    "she isn't actually in danger" - Does she really know that?
    – D M
    Jan 11, 2018 at 4:36
  • @DM, I guess not, but she doesn't really know she is in danger either.
    – Allure
    Jan 11, 2018 at 6:22
  • 1
    " The Singapore police website says one should only dial 999 when a crime is in progress, someone is hurt or in danger." The Danger Part need not be actually true, only that she believes she is in danger. In my local jurisdiction, I have called emegency dispatch services (a 911 equivalent) for such things as hearing what I believed might be a gun shot or explosion, seeing a car driving unsafe, and person walking along the side of a high way. Preventing a potential emergency is just as important as responding to one that has happening.
    – hszmv
    Jan 11, 2018 at 16:30

1 Answer 1


In my home jurisdiction, this would be considered more than enough reason to call the emergency response number.

This does not guarantee that a unit would be dispatched (quickly; of the desired type; at all). The contact centre responder will provide advice on how best to resolve the situation, and monitor for positive or negative development in the situation, until such time as a unit arrives or the situation is over.

Generally, if you believe you are at risk, you should call the emergency number. In the case that this is not correct, the responder will either provide an appropriate number or redirect the call to them.

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