Police mark year since 101 phone number launch
8:40am Tuesday 18th September 2012 in News
WILTSHIRE Police are reminding people of the benefits of the non-emergency 101 number a year on from its launch.
The 24-hour service was rolled out across the south west region on September 19, 2011 before going live across England and Wales at the start of this year.
The number was introduced after the 2010 British Crime Survey found that while most people knew to dial 999 in emergencies, only half of the public knew which number to call to speak to their local police about non-urgent crime, anti-social behaviour and general policing.
The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It replaced the old 0845 number for non-emergencies such as stolen cars, damaged properties, suspected drug use or dealing, minor traffic collisions, giving police information about crime in an area or speaking to a local officer.
Callers are played a recorded message announcing that they are being connected to their local police force. The system determines the person’s location and connects them to the relevant force.
Callers are also given the option to speak to a surrounding force. If a caller is on a boundary between two or more forces, the recorded message will give them a choice of which force to be connected to.
If none of the choices are selected then after a pause of about four seconds the system provides the option to be put through to the National Operator, who can transfer the call to any chosen force. This means that if calling from outside of the Wiltshire area they can still speak to their local home force, or if they are calling about an incident that took place in another force area, they can choose to speak to the relevant force.
With 101 it has been nationally agreed that a flat rate of 15p will be charged whether a member of the public is calling from a landline or mobile, irrespective of how long their call lasts. A person with a hearing or speech impairment can use the non-emergency textphone number 18001 101.
John Flynn, deputy head of contact management, said: “The introduction of the 101 number has not changed the way the police respond to non-urgent calls as these are still received by the call handlers in the relevant contact centre.
“We have not had any real spike in the volume of calls since the 101 number was introduced.
“We are still getting quite a lot calls on our 0845 number and we are trying to educate the public that this new number is there to contact the police for non-emergency matters.
“The 0845 will be switched off on October 1 with a recorded message advising callers it is no longer in use.”
The 101 number has not led to any noticeable reduction in the amount of 999 calls.
Mr Flynn said: “There was always the scenario it would reduce the amount of 999 calls but there hasn’t been any remarkable change. We have not had a big spike in non-emergency calls either.”
To find out more, visit www.wiltshire.police.uk