Commissioner supports different ways to contact police in a non-emergency
Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez is supporting the move by Devon and Cornwall Police to highlight different ways of contacting them in a non-emergency.
The Devon and Cornwall force offers alternative methods, rather than calling 101.
People can complete an online non-urgent crime report or use the ‘contact an officer’ facility, which will be dealt with in the same way as a call to 101, but can often be quicker. For other matters, an email to email@example.com is a convenient option.
Alison Henandez said: “I’m pleased that the police are introducing alternative contact methods for non-urgent matters. I recognise not everyone necessarily wants to call 101 and potentially have to wait several minutes. Choice is important.”
“I also recognise the summer period brings an increase in demand for the police and therefore I welcome the timing of this announcement. I will watch with interest how people respond.”
The summer months see a huge increase in visitor numbers and the police typically see a 35% increase in calls compared to the quietest times of the year. With the same number of call handlers year round, this extra demand inevitably can have an impact on call waiting times.
Sandy Brooks, head of the police contact centre said: “Lots of hard work has been going on behind the scenes in recent months to make the best use of the resources we have available. One thing we have done is introduce alternative, convenient ways to contact us for non-urgent matters, to reduce some of the demand coming in via the 101 number and offer people alternatives to the phone.”
“We would ask people first whether it’s the police they actually need to contact – many calls we receive are about fly tipping, stray dogs, noisy neighbours or illegally parked cars. These are all in fact areas the local council deals with.”
“Around a quarter of calls to us are for information. We would encourage people to click before they call and ask themselves whether they can find the answer on our website, searching for key words, or by using the ‘Ask the Police’ facility, a useful resource that has answers to hundreds of commonly asked questions.”
People are being asked to contact the police online for non-urgent matters whenever practical. A campaign running throughout the summer has been launched to raise awareness of the different ways the public can contact the police.
Ms Brooks said: "We know some people want to speak to a person or don't have access to the Internet. We want to encourage more people to contact us using these alternative contact methods, so we can manage our demand more efficiently and provide an even better 101 telephone service to those people who really do need to call us.”
Advice for contacting the police:
If you are thinking about contacting the police, here are two questions to ask yourself:
Is it the police you actually need to contact?
If the above options don’t help, call 101 – waiting times can go up during periods of high demand.
In an emergency the public should always call 999. Typically, this would be when:
a crime is in progress
someone suspected of a crime is nearby
danger to life
violence is being used or threatened
Non urgent matters include:
- theft of a vehicle
- damage to property
- suspected drug use or dealing
- minor traffic accidents
- passing on information about crime
- a general enquiry