101 Non-Emergency Number Frequently Asked Questions

What is 101?

101 is the number to call when you want to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland for non-emergency matters.  It is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

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. 

Why should I call 101?

Use the non-emergency number 101 for situations that do not require an immediate police response.  This will help keep 999 available for when there is an emergency, e.g. if a crime is taking place, or somebody is in immediate danger – for these types of incidents, always call 999.

Why was the non-emergency number 101 introduced?

The non-emergency number 101 was introduced in March 2014 as the number to call to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland in non-emergency situations only and is the National Single Non-Emergency telephone number used by all UK Police Forces across England, Scotland and Wales.  The number was introduced as it had many benefits including

  • It helps 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;
  • It makes 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;
  • It makes it easier for the public to pass on information about crimes in their neighbourhoods and allow the police to take swift action. 
When should I call the non-emergency number 101?

When it is less urgent than 999, for example:  

  • General Police Enquiries
  • Looking to speak with a specific officer
  • A Crime or Incident that has already happened and there is no emergency
  • Minor traffic collisions that do not require an emergency response.
  • Passing information on criminality (for example drugs or anti-social behaviour).

NB: When a life is at risk or there is a crime in progress, always call the police emergency number - 999.

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

Callers will be able to choose from a range of options including, report a crime or incident, report a Hate Crime or Hate incident, or speak with an officer. Options change regularly according to shifting demand so please listen carefully.

The non-emergency number 101 provides convenient access for the public 24 hours a day and by using advanced call routing, it helps callers speak with trained Police Service of Northern Ireland personnel to deal with enquiries, as quickly as possible. Should local call handlers be busy, the enhanced technology will present your call to someone else within the Service who is qualified to answer it .  This upgraded service helps the Police Service provide an improved and more efficient service whilst reducing misplaced non-emergency and 999 calls. 

Where will my call be answered?

Calls will be answered at a number of dedicated Contact Management Centres across Northern Ireland, all of which contain staff who are specially trained to handle your incident or inquiry and assist with the resolution of your call to your satisfaction.

What can I expect to be asked when I wish to report a Crime or Incident?

As a minimum you can expect to be asked your: full name, including correct spelling; your date of birth; your home/business address and the incident location.  Once these details are known, you will be asked about the crime or Incident you wish to report and we will then assess your needs using the National Call Handling Standards and local Call Resolution Matrixes.

Why do I need to provide these details?

The information is necessary to assist police to ensure the veracity of your information and allow the Call Handler to tailor the services to meet your individual needs.

How are calls graded?

Each call is graded against the National Call Handling Standards and is assessed based on the individual circumstances and needs of the caller.  Some calls will require an Emergency response; some will require a priority response and some calls are able to be resolved over the telephone.

How much do calls cost to 101?

From 1st April 2020 no member of the public should have to pay for 101 non-emergency calls to the police.

In May last year the Home Office announced it will invest £7 million a year to make the service free, which receives around 30 million calls annually.

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.


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 equipped to: resolve your call; signpost you to other agencies or send your incident to local police for resolution.  A rigorous training course, mentoring and coaching process along with a robust Quality Assurance process ensures the Call Handler is ready to assist you in your time of need.

Can I use 101 from the Republic of Ireland or other places outside of the UK?

101 is a UK only Service.  Callers in the Republic of Ireland, or roaming on an Irish network, or from anywhere else outside the UK 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?

For those who are deaf, auditory and speech impaired should register with the national E-SMS text relay service and NGTS service that offers a service to handle contact  to emergency/non-emergency services. Further information can be found at www.emergencysms.org.uk and www.ngts.org.uk . Additional information can also be found at http://ngts.org.uk/textrelay_index.php

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

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

I have a general enquiry, or wish to speak to a specific officer or other department, what number should I call?

For general enquiries, or wishing to speak with a specific officer, you should call the 101 non-emergency number and press option three.

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.

Will calls to the non-emergency number 101 be recorded?

Calls within the Police Service of Northern Ireland telephone system will be monitored and may be recorded for the purposes of training, quality assurance and the prevention or detection of crime. 

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