Facepalm: UK police forces are dealing with a new menace: the Android mobile OS. The SOS feature that dials the country's emergency services after the power button is pressed several times has left switchboards "inundated" with silent calls due to users inadvertently activating it.

The BBC reports that all the UK is currently experiencing a record-high number of 999 (the nation's equivalent to 911) calls. It's believed that the cause is an Android update that was released between October 2022 and February 2023, bringing the Emergency SOS calling feature to more devices.

The feature dials 999 when a phone's power button is pressed five times or more. That might seem like a lot, but it appears that quite a few people are doing this accidentally while the phone is in their pocket.

An unintentional 999 call means the emergency services only hear silence on the other end of the line, but as someone could be in danger and unable to speak, operators must spend time assessing the call to ensure help isn't required. One county said it received 169 silent calls in 19 hours, and each one takes about 20 minutes to deal with.

The National Police Chiefs Council tweeted that Android users can check their emergency settings to turn off the Emergency SOS functionality if they wish. It also urged anyone who accidentally dials 999 not to hang up, let the operator know it was an accident, and tell them that assistance is not required.

Emergency SOS has been around for almost two years on Pixel phones, but it took longer to arrive on other manufacturers' handsets as it's the makers who are responsible for rolling out the feature.

Google responded to the report by telling the BBC that phone manufacturers are responsible for offering Emergency SOS on their devices and managing how the feature works on individual phones.

"We anticipate device manufacturers will roll out updates to their users that address this issue shortly. Users that continue to experience this issue should switch Emergency SOS off for the next couple of days," said a Google spokesperson.

Accidentally setting off emergency phone features isn't something new. The iPhone 14/Apple Watch crash detection feature was dozens of times by roller coaster riders last year.