West Midlands Police, together with other police forces in the region, launched a new, non-emergency contact number for the public today.
The 101 number is being introduced to improve access to police, ease pressure on the 999 system and to help tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.
This new service is part of a national programme to improve access to the police and will give the public an easy way to get in touch with the police for calls that do not require an urgent response.
The system will work by redirecting people’s calls, wherever they are in the country, to their nearest police force and is intended to be easier for people to remember.
Callers using the number will incur a flat rate charge of 15p no matter how long the call lasts and whether their call is made from a landline or mobile.
The 101 number should be used to report a crime or anti-social behaviour which does not need an emergency response. For example, it could be used to report a crime that has already happened, seek crime prevention advice or make police aware of local policing issues.
In an emergency, members of the public should continue to use 999.
The current central switchboard number – 0345 113 5000 – will continue to function.
Calls for 101 will be answered in the same way as the 0345 and 0845 numbers.
Neighbouring forces – West Mercia, Staffordshire and Warwickshire – are also adopting the new number from today. The number has already been launched across southern England and parts of Wales and is set to be rolled out nationally by early next year.
As with 999, calls to 101 will be handled 24 hours a day, seven days a week by specially trained staff who can 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 have a hearing or speech impairment can use a textphone to call: 18001 101; or in an emergency: 18000.
Local policing Superintendent Andrew Shipman 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.
“The quick and easy 101 number will help with a wide breadth of issues that don’t require an immediate response and provides a universal, easy to remember 3-digit telephone number.
“The 101 number is also expected to reduce the number of inappropriate 999 calls enabling us to respond to genuine emergencies more effectively.
“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.”