All emergency services in the UK use a version of radio communications based on the terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA) specification. In England, Wales, and Scotland, this is the Airwave system. In Northern Ireland it is called Barracuda.

Advantages of TETRA over previously used VHF or UHF radio include being much lower frequency which therefore gives longer range, and the ability to easily communicate not only across the whole network, but individually with either the control centre or other users. The network is a hybrid of VHF radio and mobile phone technology and can withstand high numbers of concurrent users, such as during a major incident. Encryption is used to prevent eavesdropping; it is highly secure and provides reliable and high-quality transmissions. Emergency buttons on the units allow the user to transmit emergency signals to the dispatcher, overriding any other activity taking place at the same time.