A new hotline will be launched this summer for people to report non-emergency crimes such as graffiti and noisy neighbours.
The Home Office today confirmed that residents in some parts of the UK will soon be able to dial 101 for advice and action on minor crimes and anti-social behaviour. Each call will cost 10p.
People will be able to use 101 to report crimes such as vandalism, harassment, abandoned vehicles, fly-tipping, and drink- and drug-related anti-social behaviour.
The new 101 service comes three years after Which? highlighted huge delays the public faced when reporting a non-emergency crime to their local police station.
Hanging on the line
In a survey of 500 people, we found that people were left hanging on the line for 40 minutes, on average, before they could talk to the right person.
Ministers say the new number – which will be provided jointly by local authorities and police forces – will also free up the 999 service to deal with emergency incidents, as the vast majority of calls to 999 aren’t emergencies.
The 101 hotline will initially be launched in Cardiff, Hampshire, Leicester, Northumbria and Sheffield this summer, and will be rolled out across England and Wales by 2008. Where the service isn’t in place yet, people should continue to call their local police or the local council.
Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said: ‘In 2004 there were around ten million calls to the 999 emergency service, around 70 per cent of which were not emergencies. This single non-emergency number service will operate around-the-clock and put callers directly in touch with specially trained operators for information and advice on non-emergency matters.’
‘Vandalism, graffiti, dumped rubbish, fly-tipping, abandoned cars, relentless noise and nuisance neighbours all have a long-lasting and corrosive effect on the quality of people’s lives.’
As well as 999, people across the European Union can also dial 112 to get through to the emergency services. The 112 option was introduced so that people travelling throughout Europe had to remember only one number if they wanted to report an emergency. However, it’s estimated that only one in five Europeans know of the number’s existence.