Headlines: May 12th, 2008

The non-emergency help number, 101, is increasingly being recognized as the start point for contacting public services. The benefits of an easily remembered number are starting to show in a range of areas, but it’s not possible to say if 999 calls have been reduced.

There are different arrangements for handling 101 calls, but they are often routed to a police or local council call centre. The trials of the scheme have shown that provided advisors have the appropriate tools, information and training, customer satisfaction is high. Dealing with calls in this way has also proved very cost effective.

There has been a rapid uptake of the 101 service. With ¾ million calls since the launch of 101. Research has shown that some 40 per cent of the population are aware of the number and 101 already has higher levels of awareness than other national services such as NHS Direct.

The number is also resulting in a higher level of reports from the public. 8 per cent of people said they would not have reported cases of antisocial behaviour or community safety issues if there had not been an easily remembered number. Research also shows that the number is being used in deprived areas where it is most needed.

In addition to improving efficiencies in service delivery, 101 has driven shared service initiatives and promoted smarter partnership working in tackling crime and antisocial behaviour. It is estimated that some 2 million pounds has been saved in the first wave of trials.

The introduction of 101 has increased customer satisfaction significantly on baselines conducted on police and local authority services, from 74 to 84 per cent. This has been achieved by providing easier access to these services, with 24/7 access and multi-lingual support, a strong focus on customer experience, focusing on delivering promises and using intelligence to resolve issues in communities.