Following numerous police and crime commissioners’ calls on government to waive the fees to access the 101 non-emergency police telephone service, Cheshire’s PCC David Keane is highlighting to residents that the service is now free to use.
From today (Wednesday 1st April 2020) calls to the police non-emergency number will be free of charge.
Previously, there was a 15p connection charge to access the helpline, but the Home Office is now investing £7 million per year to meet the connection costs.
PCC David Keane said: “The charges that were in place to call 101 were creating barriers for some vulnerable people in our communities to access the vital service.
“No one should be charged for reporting crime or passing on intelligence to police so I’m welcoming the removal of this charge.
“It’s more important than ever that we’re connected with our communities and that our police service is accessible.
“However, I would like to remind people to only call 101 when it’s absolutely necessary – to report a crime or request an update on something they have previously reported – and to always call 999 in an emergency.”
Mr Keane added: “With the current coronavirus crisis, Cheshire police is seeing its helplines under increasing pressure so I’d also urge those who can to report issues online – the Cheshire police website now has an easy to use reporting feature.”
The waiving of 101 fees coincides with the commissioner’s investment into Cheshire Constabulary’s force control room.
Funding from this year’s budget will be used to provide an improved service for callers.
Mr Keane explained: “We know there has been pressure on the 101 service for some time with an increased amount of callers using the service which has resulted in longer wait times.
“This investment will allow us to recruit more staff to increase resources in the Force Control Room and provide a more positive experience for callers.”
The vast majority of people will be able to use the service free of charge from today.
However, from 1st April to 1st July 2020 there remains a chance that people using smaller network operators will be charged for using the 101 service. The Home Office will be urging those providers to refund their customers.