Emergency services can’t use the numbers on street lamps to find you

15 October 2021
What was claimed

Emergency services will know where you are exactly if you quote the numbers painted on street lamps.

Our verdict

This is not true. Emergency services cannot use this information to identify your location instantly. The numbers are there for councils to locate street lamps for repairs.

A Facebook post suggests that the emergency services can use numbering on UK street lights to locate people who might be lost or in trouble. 

The post states: “Did you know if your lost or in trouble if you ring the emergency services and you give them a number off a lamppost they will know exactly were you are.”

While it’s a nice idea, this information will not help emergency services immediately know where you are. 

A spokesman for South Western Ambulance service told Full Fact “We believe the claim is untrue.

“The numbers in the photo on the social media post do not relate to any location information we can access.

“We encourage people to download the what3words app so they can help our colleagues to find them in an emergency situation.”

A spokesman for North West Ambulance Service added: “We are not aware of any relation to the ambulance service.”

We also contacted a number of police forces who confirmed they did not use this system either. 

Norfolk Constabulary said there wasn’t “any truth” to the claim. 

A spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police added: “This isn’t something that the police can use either, our understanding is this is a council reference.”

Spokespeople for North Yorkshire Police and Northamptonshire Police also confirmed they didn’t use lampposts to locate callers and both recommended the use of what3words instead. 

The numbering is primarily used to identify street lighting columns for repairs. It is one of the pieces of information which local authorities ask for when reporting a broken light. 

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because emergency services cannot find you using street light numbering.

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