Yesterday the Home Office announced that the charge for calling the police non-emergency number is to be scrapped from today.

The Home Office will spend £7 million a year to meet the connection costs. At present, the telephony provider charges 101 callers a 15p connection fee.

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon has welcomed the news: “Reporting crime, passing on intelligence or ringing for an update should not cost callers 15p, and this is good news for victims and the people of Wiltshire.

“The police are currently working in unchartered territory, having to engage with the public in different ways and it’s important to me that the police are as accessible as possible and today’s announcement is a really positive step forward.

“That said, I would continue to encourage people to only call 101 when absolutely necessary, to report a crime/ incident, request an update or make a complaint. The Force are currently facing a high level of calls regarding the current Government restrictions in place.

“You should always call 999 if a crime is in progress or in an emergency.

“Many crimes can also now be reported on the Force’s website and there is also the option to raise concerns that people are not adhering to the restrictions set out by the Government online.”

Over the past two years, significant investment has gone into improving the performance of the Force’s crime and communications centre after concerns about its performance.

The time is takes to answer a 101 call has also improved from just over 5 minutes in 2017 to 1.20minutes at the end of 2019.

Since then, abandonment rates have also dropped 18% from 22.2% in 2017 to 4.3% for 2019.

The vast majority of people will be able to use the service free of charge from tomorrow. However, from 1 April to 1 July there remains a chance that users of small operators will be charged for using the 101 service. The Home Office will be urging those providers to refund their customers.