London

Met Police launches 101 number for non-urgent calls

Police in London are launching a phone number for calls that do not require an urgent response.

The 101 number will allow people to report crimes that have already happened, seek crime prevention advice or report local policing issues.

The number is being promoted as part of a national programme to ease pressure on the 999 emergency service.

Met Police (MPS) will be joined by other forces including Hertfordshire, City of London and Essex in using 101.

The new number has also been introduced to help MPS to make its services more accessible to the public.

The 101 contact number is being introduced across the country over the next 12 months, and in London will replace the existing 0300 number.

Biggest change

According to MPS figures, in April 2011 there were 161,008 recorded 999 calls, 32,941 (20%) of which were graded as needing immediate response. This means the remaining 80% would be more appropriate for 101.

The MPS's 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."

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.

People who speak no or little English can also dial 101 where their call will be connected with an interpreter.

Callers who are deaf or have hearing impairment or speech impairment can use a textphone to call: 18001 101; or 18000 in an emergency.