29

I'm travelling from the UK to the Czech Republic soon.

The UK foreign travel advice for the Czech Republic includes the following (bold emphasis is mine):

Beware of bogus plain-clothes policemen, who may ask to see your foreign currency and passport. If approached, don’t show your money, but offer instead to go with them to the nearest police station. If you suspect that you are dealing with a bogus police officer, you can call 158 or 112 to check their identity. No police officer in the Czech Republic has the right to check your money or its authenticity.

It is my understanding that 112 is an emergency number and checking a police officer's identity doesn't seem like an emergency. Is it acceptable to call 112 in this situation?

  • 15
    Theoretically, being scammed is an emergency. Because you could end up losing all your money/valuables, which is theft. If someone is being robbed here in the US, we call 911 as it's an emergency. I'd rather call than worry about if I should call or not. – TravelLikeBeaker Jul 11 at 11:54
  • 3
    The very likely reason why 112 is given is the fact that this number is universally valid in all European countries, for line and cell phones alike. That's incidentially the case anyway in e.g. Germany or Netherlands, but in many other countries the "traditional" number such as 158 in this case is... whatever, something. Such as e.g. it would be 17 in France, 113 in Italy, and 117 in Liechtenstein. Or 93 in some part of former Jugoslavia. Which, frankly, no traveller can remember, being such a mess. 112 on the other hand "just works". – Damon Jul 11 at 20:12
  • my uncle was scammed the same way as above in Spain, he lost all his money.. – Nigel Fds Jul 12 at 1:33
  • 2
    @Damon Regarding Germany, there was a previous question where 112 didn't "just work" and someone was directed to hang up and call 110 for the police (against official policy): travel.stackexchange.com/q/86440/67386 – Robert Furber Jul 12 at 7:41
  • 2
    I have never met a bogus police officer in Czechia (I am a Czech), so I think you don't have to worry. I would rather watch out for dishonest taxi drivers or exchange offices. I recommend you checking the Honest Guide YouTube channel youtube.com/channel/UCt7oj318jVQi7vRbc1bNjJA – Miloš Černilovský Jul 12 at 11:42
47

Yes, but might be better to call 158.

Pretending to be a police officer is a crime (at least in Czechia). If you suspect a crime, you're expected to call the police. Obviously, if you suspect that the guy standing next to you is a fake policeman, your property or health may be in imminent danger, so you're perfectly entitled to call the emergency number.

That said, the main emergency number for the police is 158, so it's better to call that directly. 112 is an alternative number that connects you to the central emergency dispatch (actually operated by the fire department), which will in turn connect you to either the police (158), the fire department (150), or the ambulance (155), as appropriate. The result will be the same, but going through 112 will take somewhat longer.

However, unlike line 112, the national emergency numbers (150/155/156/158) don't guarantee English-speaking operators. If the operator doesn't speak English, you'll be simply connected to line 112. (According to the police spokeswoman, in Czech.)

  • 3
    Thank you - that makes perfect sense. Does 158 guarantee English-speaking operators like 112 does? I'm learning some Czech but not enough to communicate well in an emergency – LJD200 Jul 11 at 12:24
  • 5
    @kiradotee I don't think it's that bad. In the linked Czech article, the spokeswoman for the emergency medical services says that "if the caller doesn't speak Czech, the operators of the line 112 help us in a conference call". I guess the police works the same way, so you end up in a three-way conference call with the police officer and a 112 operator, with the latter helping out as a translator. I don't have any experience though (and I'm not going to try calling 158 and pretending not to speak Czech just to find out). – TooTea Jul 11 at 18:10
  • 7
    If you have a scam artist/robber in front of you, no matter what number you call, 112/158 or whatever, will trigger a response from him. You could quite well call 123. – Pierre B Jul 12 at 1:37
  • 4
    @TooTea : I'm reasonably certain that, unless you are in a dark alley with not a single person nearby, if you call (or pretend to call) the police, the scammer will quickly go away and look for a different victim elsewhere. There is no reason for the scammer to take the risk. And if you are in a dark alley far from other people, and the robber would be willing to fight, there is no reason for him to pretend to be a police officer, he will just mug you straight away... – vsz Jul 12 at 9:49
  • 4
    @vsz Sure, but it's still a good idea to report that incident to the actual police, so that they can do something about that guy. – TooTea Jul 12 at 10:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.