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Charge for non-urgent calls to police 101 number scrapped

PUBLISHED: 14:07 01 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:07 01 April 2020

Suffolk Constabulary's contact and control room is based at Martlesham Heath headquarters  Picture: LAUREN DE BOISE

Suffolk Constabulary's contact and control room is based at Martlesham Heath headquarters Picture: LAUREN DE BOISE

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Non-urgent calls to police will be free of charge from now on – after the government scrapped a 15p fee in place since the service was rolled out almost a decade ago.

Calls to 101 had been charged at a fixed fee of 15p from landlines and mobiles, regardless of the duration or time of day.

Last May, the Home Office announced the charge will be scrapped for all callers from April 2020.

On Tuesday, the government confirmed that no member of the public should have to pay for 101 non-emergency calls to the police from now on.

The Home Office said it would invest £7 million each year to make the service free.

Non-emergency call handling demand reduced 19.5% to its lowest level in three years over the last 12 months in Suffolk.

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The constabulary’s contact and control room received 132,847 calls to the 101 number in 2019 – and average of 364 a day.

A ‘click before you call’ campaign was implemented to encourage online reporting where appropriate, while a new question was added to the force’s online reporting function to identify if users had attempted dialling 101 before switching.

Sergeants have also been requested to ensure staff advise victims of crime to use other forms of contact for updates, rather than phone 101, which would put them in an administration queue with a potentially longer waiting time.

A joint statement from the Home Office, Home Secretary Priti Patel and policing minister Kit Malthouse said the vast majority of people would now be able to use the service free of charge.

However, until July, there will remain a chance that users of small operators will be charged for using the 101 service, although the Home Office will be urging those providers to refund their customers.

Nationally, the 101 service receives about 30 million calls annually.

It was launched in December 2011 and rolled out across the country within a year to provide an accessible number for non-emergency contact with the police, such as if your car has been stolen, if your property has been damaged, if you suspect drug use or dealing in your neighbourhood, to give the police information about crime in your area or to speak to the police about a general enquiry.


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