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Calls to 101 soon to be free-to-caller?

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Calls to 101 soon to be free-to-caller?

edited 17 May 2019 at 5:55AM in Phones & TV
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Ian011Ian011 Forumite
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edited 17 May 2019 at 5:55AM in Phones & TV
Calls to the Police non-emergency number on 101 currently cost 15p per call, a figure agreed between the Home Office and telecoms providers back in 2012. This fee covers the cost of connecting calls to the system. The police then pay an additional per-minute rate to route these calls to the correct destination.

For those callers who are unable or unwilling to call 101, each police force has for many years publicised an ordinary 01, 02 or 03 contact number alongside 101. Calls to these alternative numbers are, for most people, simply included in monthly allowances and incur no further charges. This applies on landlines, on contract mobile phones and on most pay-as-you-go mobile phones. These numbers replaced a range of more expensive premium rate 0845 and other numbers previously in use in many areas.

In recent times, the alternative 01, 02 and 03 telephone numbers have stopped being publicised, in particular the long list on the main police website has been removed and a number of police forces no longer publish any 01, 02 or 03 numbers on their own website.

Those people who are on a pay-as-you-go deal with inclusive calls to ordinary numbers find they cannot call 101 unless they add an additional top-up for calling chargeable and premium rate numbers (for other callers the 15p charge is simply added to their next telephone bill). The minimum additional top-up is usually £10 and this leaves the caller with £9.85 for making calls to premium rate numbers, calls they may never make. This is a wholly unsatisfactory situation with some of the most vulnerable people effectively blocked from using the 101 system from their own phone.

BT payphones have never charged for calls to 101 because there is a 60p minimum call charge from a payphone/callbox and BT deemed it would cost more to modify the coin mechanism than would be collected by charging 15p per call for calls to 101. In more recent times, Giffgaff has waived the charge for calling 101. This happened in perhaps mid-2018.

In light of the most recent developments, Vodafone has announced they will stop charging for calls to 101 from 1 June 2019 on pay-as-you-go phones, and both TalkTalk and O2 have said they are reviewing the 15p charge.

The Home Office had previously declined to fully fund the 101 service, with callers left to pay 15p per call. In light of the facts that some callers cannot get immediate direct access to 101 and the police 101 number is, perhaps, the only chargeable-in-all-circumstances public service telephone line, the Home Office is now under considerable pressure to fully fund the 101 service so that calls to this number can become free-to-caller, the same as for calls to 105, 111 and 112/999.

Recent history:
http://www.fairtelecoms.org.uk/uploads/1/1/4/5/11456053/the_campaign_to_make_101_calls_free_to_caller.pdf
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  • poppasmurf_bewdleypoppasmurf_bewdley Forumite
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    The alternative to ringing 101 is to call the number given by your local police force for calling their headquarters. Usually these calls and those to 101 go to the same operators.

    That's certainly the case in the West Mercia area where you can call 0300 333-3000.
    "There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe a 'Princess Coronation' locomotive in full cry. We shall never see their like again". O S Nock
  • edited 17 May 2019 at 5:55AM
    Ian011Ian011 Forumite
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    edited 17 May 2019 at 5:55AM
    The alternative to ringing 101 is to call the number given by your local police force for calling their headquarters. Usually these calls and those to 101 go to the same operators.

    That's certainly the case in the West Mercia area where you can call 0300 333-3000.
    As I explained in the OP, slowly but surely those alternative numbers are no longer being publicised and are gradually being withdrawn from use. In a number of areas of the country the only telephone number that can be called is 101, and many callers on pay-as-you-go deals (those with inclusive calls) are prevented from calling that number unless they first add a further £10 top-up for calling chargeable and premium rate numbers. This is an unacceptable restriction imposed on some of the most vulnerable in society.

    West Mercia Police has removed their 03 number from the contact page on their website. A number of other forces have also done this for their 01, 02 or 03 number. In some cases, in additional to removal of the 01, 02 or 03 number from their website, the old number now no longer works at all.
  • ChinoChino Forumite
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    Ian011 wrote: »
    Those people who are on a pay-as-you-go deal with inclusive calls to ordinary numbers find they cannot call 101 unless they add an additional top-up for calling chargeable and premium rate numbers (for other callers the 15p charge is simply added to their next telephone bill). The minimum additional top-up is usually £10 and this leaves the caller with £9.85 for making calls to premium rate numbers, calls they may never make. This is a wholly unsatisfactory situation with some of the most vulnerable people effectively blocked from using the 101 system from their own phone.
    You claim this but do not identify any PAYG providers that require such a minimum top-up for making 101 calls.

    As a counter example, Three's Pay As You Go tariff for calling 101 is 15p (per call) and text relay calls to 18001 101 are free.
    http://www.three.co.uk/termspdf/PAYG_Plan_price_guide_010419.pdf

    So could you name some PAYG operators that require such a top-up? I'm sure that many people would find such a list useful.
  • edited 17 May 2019 at 5:55AM
    Ian011Ian011 Forumite
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    edited 17 May 2019 at 5:55AM
    Any pay-as-you-go system where your top-up voucher or bank card transaction purchases a preset amount of minutes and texts lasting for up to one month, or purchases an unlimited amount of calls and texts for one month, will include geographic landline numbers starting 01 and 02, non-geographic numbers starting 03, and mobile numbers starting 071 to 075 and 077 to 079. By definition, it will exclude premium rate numbers starting 084, 087, 09 and 118, will exclude other numbers starting 055, 056, 070 and 076 and will exclude calls to 101. To call any of these other numbers, additional pounds and pence credit will need to be added, and this usually involves an additional £10 minimum top-up.

    Three's pay-as-you-go offering charges all calls per minute and all texts per message and has no inclusive allowance. The OP is not about those types of pay-as-you-go deals.
  • spenderdavespenderdave Forumite
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    I was not aware until I saw this thread that calls to 101 were charged. Most 1** are free - 100 (operator), 111 (NHS), 150 etc so it seems rather illogical. I wonder how many people have been taken in by this unexpected charge.
  • Neil_JonesNeil_Jones Forumite
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    I was not aware until I saw this thread that calls to 101 were charged. Most 1** are free - 100 (operator), 111 (NHS), 150 etc so it seems rather illogical. I wonder how many people have been taken in by this unexpected charge.

    It's not "unexpected", it was specifically announced at the time the service launched that it would cost 15p a call. That was the agreement between the Home Office and the telephone companies.

    100 is not always free (to make yes but may have other knock on charges such as to reverse the charge of a call), and 150 varies depending on the provider (mostly free but again can have knock on charges). 111 is for health advice (free for public health reasons presumably), 112/999 we know about and 118 is definitely not free.
  • SnowTigerSnowTiger Forumite
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    Chino wrote: »
    You claim this but do not identify any PAYG providers that require such a minimum top-up for making 101 calls.

    As a counter example, Three's Pay As You Go tariff for calling 101 is 15p (per call) and text relay calls to 18001 101 are free.
    http://www.three.co.uk/termspdf/PAYG_Plan_price_guide_010419.pdf

    So could you name some PAYG operators that require such a top-up? I'm sure that many people would find such a list useful.

    Smarty charges 15p for calls to 101:

    What’s not included.

    [...]

    101 calls 15p per call.

    I use Smarty. I don't have a credit balance on my account. I'd guess my calls to 101 would be blocked, although I haven't tried it.

    It's now possible to set a spending limit/cap on mobile contracts. Someone who has a spending cap of £0.00 may find they can't make calls to 101. Some charges may be excluded from the cap.

    There are probably many cases where contract and PAYG mobile users can't call 101 unless their account has credit facilities or their balance is 15p or greater.

    Mostly, they won't know until they call the number.
  • edited 28 May 2019 at 7:27AM
    Ian011Ian011 Forumite
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    edited 28 May 2019 at 7:27AM
    It took less than a month, but the Home Office has capitulated and announced that charges for calls to the police 101 number will be scrapped for all from April 2020.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48423791
  • Ian011Ian011 Forumite
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    The Home Office official press release, eventually published ...

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/home-office-to-scrap-101-non-emergency-number-charges
  • spenderdavespenderdave Forumite
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    Why does it take them a year to implement what should be a simple change?
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