We've all been taught to call 999 in an emergency, but what really counts as an emergency? And who's the alternative to call?
Each year the 999 service receives hundreds of thousands of calls that are not classified as emergencies. These calls delay the response to urgent emergencies, potentially putting lives at risk.
Non-emergency calls are serious crimes but NOT in progress. This includes calls about property that has been damaged and noise disturbances.
So, in these circumstances who do you call?
101 is the number to call for minor crimes when an emergency response is not needed.
You should call 101 to:
- Report a crime not currently in progress, eg: a stolen car, burglary, or damaged property
- Give information to the police about a crime in your area
- Speak to the police about a general enquiry or contact a specific officer/member of staff
When calling this number you will hear a recorded message saying the police force you are being connected to. This is determined by your location.
Calls to 101 are answered by police officers and staff in the control room of the local police force to ensure all problems are dealt with appropriately.
Calls to 101 cost 15p from landlines and mobile networks, no matter how long you are on the phone.
You should call 999 when:
- A crime is happening
- Someone is in immediate danger/there is danger to life
- There is a risk of serious damage to property
- A suspect for a serious crime is nearby
- There is a traffic collision involving injury or danger to other road users
- Violence is being used or threatened
What if English is not my first language?
Every local police force has access to professional interpreters so they can arrange to translate your call if you have difficulty speaking English.