Suffolk and Norfolk Police forces are supporting a Home Office campaign to get people to use the 101 number to contact them for non-emergencies.
Launched this week, the campaign involves radio and digital advertising and will show non-emergency situations when the public should dial 101.
More than three quarters of 999 calls received by the police are for non-emergencies, such as people reporting crimes that are no longer in progress (for example discovering that their home has been burgled or their vehicle has been stolen), or wanting to discuss anti-social behaviour in their local area.
The forces are sharing the messages in the campaign, to remind the public that they should call 101 to speak to the police when there isn’t a crime in progress or risk of violence or to life.
The number should be used for police matters only, which will enable the constabulary to provide an improved service from the moment they are called, providing the appropriate response right away, rather than transferring callers to other agencies.
Launched in 2012, 101 now covers all police forces across the UK and has replaced individual forces’ local numbers. A call to 101 costs just 15 pence no matter how long your call is.
However, the forces say many people call 101 to report matters that are not for the police to deal with and should have been directed to other agencies, such as local authorities who deal with such as road signs, potholes, street lighting, traffic lights, noise nuisances and lost or found dogs.
Superintendent Louisa Pepper, lead for the Contact and Control Room, said: “I cannot stress how important it is that members of the public use the correct number to contact police, as we still receive calls to 999 that are not emergencies.
“These misplaced calls could potentially delay us in responding to genuine emergencies, where officers might have been able to halt a crime in progress or assist where lives are at risk.
Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk, said: “The 101 number plays an important role in the Constabulary’s call answering service. It is designed to divert non-emergency calls away from the 999 service and this is very effective, providing callers only use it for policing matters.”
Stephen Bett, Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk, said: “Even with the non-emergency 101 number, too many calls are made to the police which should be dealt with by partner agencies. The public’s perception can be that the police is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all enquiries though we need members of the public to think carefully before dialling 999 or 101.”
Further information is available at www.askthe.police.uk