101 non-emergency number - frequently asked questions

What is 101?

101 is a national single non-emergency number that all police forces are going to be using by 2012 and will replace the Thames Valley Police 0845 8 505 505 (non-emergency) number. The initiative is being driven jointly by the Home Office and NPIA, with the telephony service provided by Cable & Wireless.

When did Thames Valley Police go live?

Thames Valley Police went live with 101 on 14 November 2011, alongside South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Kent, Sussex, Humberside, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.

When to call 101?

You should call 101 to report less urgent crime and disorder or to speak to your local officers.

For example, you should call 101 if:

  • your car has been stolen.
  • your property has been damaged.
  • you suspect drug use or dealing in your neighbourhood.

Or to:

  • report a minor traffic collision.
  • give the police information about crime in your area.
  • speak to the police about a general enquiry.

101 is being introduced as part of the Government's wider work to improve access to the police, ease pressure on 999, and help to efficiently and effectively tackle crime and disorder.

What is the difference between 101 and 999?

You should continue to call 999 when it is an emergency, such as when a crime is in progress, when there is danger to life or when violence is being used or threatened.

How much will it cost the caller?

Calls to 101 (from both landlines and mobile networks) cost 15 pence per call, no matter what time of day the call is made, or the duration of the call. Everyone calling the police for non-emergency matters will now know exactly how much a call will cost them, and can be assured of equal access whether they are on a pay-as-you-go mobile or a home landline.

How does the routeing of the call work?

The routeing will be based on the same system as 999 calls which links a caller’s dialling code to the police force that covers that geographic area. Calls from a landline will be routed to the nearest police force that covers the area’s dialling code. If the caller is using a mobile, the call will be routed using the location of the mast that the phone is transmitting from.

If a call is made to 101 within a police force area that has not yet ‘gone live’, the caller will hear a recorded message telling them to redial using the relevant non-emergency number.

Who will answer my 101 call?

Calls to 101 are answered by police call handlers in the control room of the local police force. This ensures that staff with local knowledge can answer and deal with the calls and respond appropriately.

You will not be put through to a large national call centre. When you call 101, the system will determine your location and connect you to the police force covering that area. You will hear a recorded message announcing the police force you are being connected to. If you are on a boundary between two or more forces, the recorded message will give you a choice of which force to be connected to.

I am deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, can I call 101?

Yes, you can textphone 18001 101.

What if English is not my first language?

Your local police have access to professional interpreters so they can quickly translate your call if you have difficulty speaking English.

What about reporting general nuisance or environmental issues?

You should continue to call your local council for things like:

  • reporting graffiti.
  • dog fouling.
  • abandoned vehicles.
  • dumping and fly tipping.
  • vandalism.

What should I do if the 101 number is currently blocked on the phone at my workplace / college / business premises?

As 101 is a new number, some business phone systems and switchboards may not yet be programmed to recognise 101. Please contact the person who administers your phone system to request that access is opened to the 101 number.

How to contact your local council (opens new window).

If '101' is not yet available in your area you should contact the police on their existing non-emergency number.

Alternative numbers for police forces (opens new window).

Information about the national 101 project (opens new window).

Further information

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