Number’s up for old police hotline
3:00pm Friday 21st September 2012 in Latest News
Police are reminding all Wiltshire people to only use the force’s non-emergency 101 number, before the old number is switched off next month.
The 24-hour service was rolled out across the South West a year ago, on September 19, 2011, before going live across England and Wales at the start of 2012.
It was introduced after the 2010 British Crime Survey found that, while most people knew to dial 999 in emergencies, only half knew the number to call about non-urgent crime, anti- social behaviour and policing.
The service replaced the old 0845 coded number for calls about issues such as stolen cars, damage, drug use or dealing, minor traffic collisions, reporting information about a crime or speaking to a local officer.
John Flynn, the force’s deputy head of contact management, said: “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.”
Callers to 101 are played a recorded message, announcing that they are being connected to their local police force.
The national 101 system determines the caller’s location and connects to the relevant force. People are also given an option to speak to a surrounding force.
If a caller is near a county boundary, the message will offer a choice.
“If none is selected after four seconds, the system gives an option to be put through to a National Operator, who can transfer the call to any force.
If calling from outside the Wiltshire area, county people can still speak to their home force. It also means they can report an incident from another area to the relevant force.
A flat rate of 15p is charged for calls to 101, from landlines or mobiles and irrespective of how long a call lasts.
Hearing or speech impaired callers can use the textphone number, 18001 101.
Mr Flynn 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.”
He said the force had not experienced any spike in the volume of calls since the 101 number was introduced, or a noticeable drop in 999 calls.
Mr Flynn added: “There was always the scenario it would reduce the amount of 999 calls, but there hasn’t been any remarkable change.”