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The new 101 non-emergency telephone number


101 non-emergency number – General Information

From 24 March 2014 the telephone number for calling the Police Service of Northern Ireland in a non-emergency situation will be 101. The new number will provide members of the public with improved access to police non-emergency services.

It costs less to call the 101 non-emergency and it is easier to remember. The non-emergency 101 will be available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and should help reduce the pressure on the 999 emergency system.

Only 5% of all 999 calls fielded by Police Service of Northern Ireland relate to emergency issues.

Benefits of introducing 101 non-emergency phone number:

  1. It will make it easier and less expensive for the public to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland
  2. It will reduce the number of non-emergency calls to the 999 number
  3. It should increase crime reporting, improve crime outcomes and build confidence in the Police Service of Northern Ireland

An integrated communication campaign will commence on the 24 March to promote the new number and educate the public in relation to when they should use 101 and when they should use 999.

The Association of Police Officers Guidelines recommends that it is best to be consistent in the language we use to ensure a coherent understanding of 101 non-emergency across Northern Ireland. They recommend the term 101 non-emergency number while we are introducing the number and later simply refer to it as 101 once the concept has become more established.

They also recommend that we avoid using the term ‘single non-emergency number’ or any acronyms within any communications.

The campaign will run across selected outdoor sites, bus sides, social media, radio, local press and will be supported by a range of public relations activity including media facilities and briefing packs for District Media Officers and District management teams along with briefing materials for PCSP Managers.

Neighbourhood officers will also be supplied with promotional material for distribution within their districts.

Prior to the external launch of the new number, an internal communication campaign will be undertaken to ensure all officers and staff are fully briefed on why the number has been launched, when it should be used and what opportunities they should consider to promote the use of the number. The campaign will include posters for internal notice boards, a Frequently Asked Questions Section on PoliceNet along with information uploaded onto PoliceNet News.




General Information from T/Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd



Frequently Asked Questions

Why is 101 non-emergency number being introduced?

The 101 non-emergency number is the new number to call to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland in non-emergency situations only.

It will:

  • Help communities keep their neighbourhoods safer by giving them one single easy way to contact police to report crime and other concerns that do not require an emergency police response;

  • Make the police more accessible to their communities while reducing pressure on the 999 system and helping to identify and allocate resources where they are needed the most;

  • Make it easier for the public to pass on information about crimes in their neighbourhoods and allow the police to take swift action.

What is 101?

101 is the number to call when you want to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland for non-emergency matters – when it is less urgent than 999. From 24 March 2014,101 replaces the 0845 600 8000 number and is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Why should I call 101?

Use the 101 non-emergency number for situations that do not require an immediate police response helps keep 999 available for when there is an emergency. If a crime is taking place, or somebody is in immediate danger, always call 999.

Is 101 going to replace 999?

No, 101 is the number to use to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland in situations that do not require an immediate police response. 999 will continue to be the number that you need to dial when you need to report an emergency. An emergency is when a crime is happening, someone suspected of a crime is nearby, someone is injured, being threatened or in danger.

When should I call 101 non-emergency number?

When it is less urgent than 999; for general enquiries, to contact local police or to report a crime that has already happened you should always call the 101 non-emergency. Crimes and issues such as the following should always be reported by calling the 101 non-emergency number:

  • Minor traffic collisions that do not require an emergency response.
  • Criminal damage that has already taken place.
  • Passing information on criminality (for example drugs or anti-social behaviour.
  • When a life is at risk or there is a crime in progress always call the police emergency number - 999.

Where will my call be answered?

Calls will be answered at a number of venues. If you live within the Urban policing area they will be answered at the Urban Call Management Centre at Castlereagh police station. If you live in the Rural policing area your call will be answered at Maydown or Armagh police stations.

What will happen when I call 101 non-emergency number?

Callers will be able to choose from two pre recorded options, giving them the opportunity to report something to police or make another type of enquiry. The new 101 non-emergency number will provide convenient access to the public 24 hours a day and advanced call routing will help trained Police Service of Northern Ireland personnel to deal with enquiries. Should local call handlers be busy, the enhanced technology will find someone else within the Service who is qualified to answer the call. This upgraded service will help the Police Service provide an improved and more efficient service whilst reducing misplaced non-emergency and 999 calls.

How are calls graded?

An emergency call will result in an immediate emergency police response when:

  • a serious offence is being committed or there is danger to life
  • a suspect who is violent or likely to escape is nearby
  • a serious road traffic collision involving personal or potential injury
  • a racially or homophobic motivated incident is in progress
  • evidence of a serious incident may be lost without immediate attendance
  • the victim is in extreme distress.

By using a national framework for call handlers we are able to deal with other non- urgent calls and so are able to assess if the matter needs to be dealt with by officers within the hour or by a scheduled polices response within 24 hours. On occasion, the incident can be resolved to the caller’s satisfaction without officers being deployed.

How much do calls cost to 101?

Calls to 101 non-emergency from landlines or mobile phones* cost 15 pence, regardless of the length of time you are on the phone or the time of the day you call.

* Tesco mobile and giffgaff mobile network users will not be able to dial the 101 non-emergency number. Those network users should dial 02890 650222.  

If people have to pay 15 pence to call 101, will they not just call 999 instead because it is free?

We acknowledge that there will always be a risk that people will use the 999 system inappropriately rather than pay 15 pence to call 101, for example, if they do not have enough credit on their mobile phone. We will continue to raise awareness of the consequences of inappropriate use of 999 in order to limit this. Where the 999 system is being abused we will seek to take appropriate action that can include having your phone disconnected.

Why are calls to 101 not free of charge like 999?

The Police Service has always charged for non-emergency related calls and the 15 pence per call charge replaces previous higher charges. The 101 non-emergency number is a not for profit making number.

At a time of public sector budget reductions, why is a new telephone service being introduced?

101 has been introduced to provide members of the public with improved access to police non-emergency services. It is hoped that the availability of an easy to remember number for members of the public to call in situations that do not require an immediate police response, will in time reduce the pressure on the 999 emergency system, helping us to identify and allocate resources where they are needed the most.

Are calls to 101 answered by police officers?

All 101 calls are answered by professional call handling staff who have received specialist training and are regularly assessed.  

Can I use 101 from the Republic of Ireland? 

101 is a UK only Service, just like the current 0845 600 8000 service. Callers in the Republic of Ireland, or roaming on an Irish network, can still contact Police Service of Northern Ireland on + 44 2890 650222.  

English is not my first language, can I still call 101?

Yes, translation services are available in such circumstances.

If I have difficulties with my hearing or have speech impairment, can I call 101?  

We have a specialist text line for use by the deaf, auditory and speech impaired only which is 028 9090 1300

How does 101 deal with hoax calls? 

All calls will be treated as genuine until established otherwise. It is a criminal offence to misuse the emergency system.

I don't want to report a crime, I want crime prevention advice what number should I call?

Call the 101 non-emergency where you will be given a number of options to choose from.

I have a general enquiry, what number should I call?

For general enquiries, you should call 101 non-emergency number. If you know the extension you require, please enter it when prompted.

What will happen to the previous number, 0845 600 8000?

Once 101 non-emergency number has been established through public usage, the current 0845 600 8000 telephone number will be phased out by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

When I call the police will an officer be sent immediately?

Before any officers are deployed, call handlers will assess the nature of the call and grade its priority. If the call is an emergency an officer will be sent straight away. If it is not an emergency, an officer will be sent accordingly.

Who is paying for 101?

The Police Service of Northern Ireland pays for this service and makes no profit from it.

Will calls to 101 non-emergency number be recorded?

Calls within the Police Service of Northern Ireland telephone system will be monitored or recorded.