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180116 Campaign to Raise Awareness of 101 police number

19 January 2016

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Suffolk Constabulary is supporting a Home Office campaign reminding the public that they should call 101 if they need to contact their local police for non-emergency issues.

More than three quarters of 999 calls received by the police are for non-emergencies, such as people reporting crimes that are no longer in progress (for example discovering that their home has been burgled or their vehicle has been stolen), or wanting to discuss anti-social behaviour in their local area.

The constabulary is sharing the messages, to remind the public that they should call 101 to speak to the police when there isn’t a crime in progress or risk of violence or to life.

The number should be used for police matters only, which will enable the constabulary to provide an improved service from the moment they are called, providing the appropriate response right away, rather than transferring callers to other agencies. The campaign will also encourage the public to remind their family and friends of the service.

A quick way to contact the police

101 is an easy-to-remember number for the public to call the police, and is designed to reduce the number of non-emergency 999 calls. This allows the police to respond more quickly to genuine emergencies, such as when someone is in immediate danger, a crime is happening right now, or a suspect for a serious crime is nearby.

Launched in 2012, it now covers all police forces across the UK and has replaced individual forces’ local numbers. A call to 101 costs just 15 pence no matter how long your call is. Not only is this cheaper than some forces’ local numbers, the single rate for every call means you know exactly how much your call will cost.

In addition to reminding members of the public to use the 101 number instead of 999 for non-emergencies, Suffolk Constabulary would also like to stress that 101 should still only be used for police matters.

Many people call 101 to report matters that are not for the police to deal with and should have been directed to other agencies. Many of these are matters that should be reported to local authorities to deal with such as: highways issues (e.g. road signs, potholes, street lighting & traffic lights); noise nuisances; and lost/found dogs.

Superintendent Louisa Pepper, lead for the Contact and Control Room, said:

"I cannot stress how important it is that members of the public use the correct number to contact police, as we still receive calls to 999 that are not emergencies.

"These misplaced calls could potentially delay us in responding to genuine emergencies, where officers might have been able to halt a crime in progress or assist where lives are at risk.

"101 is an easy to remember alternative number to contact police on where a crime has already occurred or for other non-emergency matters. However, as part of this campaign we also want to educate the public on what matters they should be calling the police about in general.

"Many of the calls we currently receive on the 101 number are not ‘core police business’ and we often have to redirect to another agency. The simple test for most people is whether their call is connected with crime and disorder — if it isn’t then they most likely should be calling one of our partners.

"Knowing who to call in the first place will not only reduce the volume of calls to our staff, but will save members of the public time by speaking to the correct organisation in the first instance. To assist with this, general information and on-line forms are available on our website.”

Tim Passmore, Police & Crime Commissioner for Suffolk, said:

"The 101 number plays an important role in the Constabulary's call answering service. It is designed to divert non-emergency calls away from the 999 service and this is very effective, providing callers only use it for policing matters.

"The easy to remember number is unfortunately plagued with calls about issues that are not for the police to deal with.

"I am very happy to support this Home Office campaign to raise awareness of the 101 number and hope it will encourage people to remember the number but not to use it for anything other than for genuine policing issues. There is a tendency for the number to be used for non-policing enquiries and this inevitably creates delays for those who have enquiries about genuine policing issues.

"In order to get the best possible service from the police control room it is vital that people use the 101 service appropriately so I would encourage people to heed the important messages from the campaign.”

Further information is available at www.suffolk.police.uk and www.askthe.police.uk

Members of the public are also reminded not to confuse 101 with the NHS non-emergency number 111.

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