New contact number for non emergencies
As latest figures reveal that less than a quarter of 999 calls require an emergency response, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), has launched a new contact number for the public.
The new number, 101, is part of a national programme to improve access and will give the public one easy way to get in touch with the police for calls that do not require an urgent response. For example, the public should call 101 to report a crime that has already happened, seek crime prevention advice or make us aware of local policing issues.
It is being introduced to improve access to the police, ease pressure on 999 and to help tackle crime and disorder. In London the new number is just one of the ways the Metropolitan Police Service is modernising and improving our services while making them more accessible to the public. As well as calling us on 101 or 999, the public can use our online services to get information or report crime; join virtual neighbourhood ward panels to oversee and influence local policing; visit a police station or front counter 24/7; or approach an officer in the street.
Introducing 101 the MPS will be joined by some of our neighbouring police forces including Hertfordshire, City of London and Essex in being early adopters of the new number.
As with 999, calls to 101 in London will be handled 24 hours a day, seven days a week by specially trained officers and staff at the MPS's Central Communications Command who will help deal with enquiries. For people who speak no or little English they can also dial 101 where their call will be connected with an interpreter. Callers who are deaf, deafened or have a hearing or speech impairment can use a textphone to call: 18001 101; or in an emergency it's 18000.
According to official MPS figures, in April 2011 there were 161,008 recorded 999 calls, 32,941 (20%) of which were graded as an immediate response required i.e. a genuine emergency. This means the remaining 80% would be more appropriate for 101.
Metropolitan Police Service Assistant Commissioner for Territorial Policing Ian McPherson, said: "The introduction of 101 is one of the biggest changes in the way people can contact the police since 999 was introduced in the 1940s.
"Having just two phone numbers - 101 for reporting a crime that has happened, to get advice or to raise local policing issues - or 999 if it's an emergency, makes calling the Met a lot easier and makes our services more accessible.
"It's also expected to reduce the number of inappropriate 999 calls the Met receives, enabling us to respond to genuine emergencies more effectively.
"Only about 20% of 999 calls require an emergency response from the police. 999 should only be used in an emergency, that is when a crime is happening, when someone suspected of a crime is nearby, or where someone is injured, being threatened or in danger. For all other matters the public should call us on 101.
"There are now many ways for the public to get in touch with the Met: you can approach an officer in the street; you can visit a police station or front counter 24/7; you can report crime or get advice on our website; you can join one of our virtual neighbourhood ward panels and now you can call 101 if you don't require an immediate response. We can also come to you at a time and place to suit you - last year we made 80,000 appointments. You can also get in touch with your local (Safer Neighbourhoods) policing team to discuss policing or crime concerns in your area.
"Even if your first language is not English we can still help as we can set up a three-way conversation between the caller, police operator and a qualified interpreter. We also have a text phone service for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
"Dialling 101 provides a direct link to your police, where you can get information, advice and access to your local policing teams.
"101 is just one of the ways we are improving and modernising our services - a commitment demonstrated by increased levels of public confidence in the MPS - now one of the highest levels of all UK police forces. The MPS is here for London and we are determined to keep on improving our services while making them accessible to all communities in London."
Mayor of London Boris Johnson welcomed the introduction of 101 and said: "This quick and easy 101 number will help with a wide breadth of important issues that don't require an immediate response. Some people have inadvertently used '999' for things which aren't emergencies, and this number will free up our blue light brigade to concentrate on critical matters, whilst offering the public an excellent way of reporting other issues.
"We've been exploring the widespread potential for this service at City Hall and I hope this number will be more widely adopted in the future across an even broader range of services."
Supporting today's launch Home Office minister for policing Nick Herbert said: "This is a significant step forward in our ambition to reconnect the police and public. 101 in London will give the public a memorable non-emergency number so that they can get in touch with local forces.
"It will make crime easier to report and help the police to tackle crime and disorder."
Commander Ian Dyson, City of London Police and ACPO lead on contact management, said: "101 is a number to ring your local police force. It's simple and straight forward. If it's an emergency call 999 if it's not, call 101. This number provides a universal, easy to remember 3-digit telephone number for people living or working in London.
"We would remind the public that they should always continue to call 999 in an emergency - for example, when an immediate response is needed because a crime is happening, someone suspected of a crime is nearby, or someone is injured, being threatened or in danger."
The 101 contact number is being introduced across the country over the next 12 months, and in London will replace the existing '0300' number. The aims of introducing 101 are to:
- Help communities to keep their neighbourhoods safe by giving them one easy way to contact their local police and to report non-emergency crime and disorder;
- Make the police more accessible to their communities, whilst reducing pressure on the 999 system and helping the police to put their resources where they are needed most.
- Help the police to cut crime by making it easier for the public to pass on information about crimes in their neighbourhoods and allowing the police to take swift action.
To help inform Londoners about the new service the MPS is delivering an information campaign which will comprise radio, press and roadside advertising. Pan-London media will be targeted as well as ethnic, specialist and disability titles to reach London's diverse audiences.
A range of publicity materials is also being made available for officers and staff to distribute local communities.
The campaign is just one element of a wide platform of communication work that the MPS will be undertaking to raise awareness of the different ways that members of the public can access our services.