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New national number for police

By SPP Reporter

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Callers will have to dial 101 from next year to contact police.
Callers will have to dial 101 from next year to contact police.

A new national telephone number is to be introduced in Scotland next year for non-emergency police calls.

At present anyone wishing to report minor incidents or speak to a police officer rings their local police station.

But from early next year non emergencies will have to be reported by dialling 101 – the 999 emergency number will remain the same.

The 101 number will bypass local stations and be answered at Northern Constabulary headquarters in Inverness.

The one-number system is already used in England and Wales and is being introduced in Scotland alongside the merging of the country’s police forces into the one unitary body.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the Northern Joint Police Board in Inverness on Thursday.

Members were told it would cost £90,000 to install the required technology at police stations across the north.

Veteran Highland councillor and Board member Brian Murphy, Lochaber, said the new catch-all phone number was a disappointing move, given the huge size of the geographical area.

He warned it could lead to mistakes and a "loss of connection between communities and police."

Fellow board member Roger Saxon, Thurso, was concerned the public would get confused with the 999 and 101 numbers but was reassured to learn all the calls would be answered in Inverness and not elsewhere in Scotland.

Chief constable George Graham said he fully understood the concerns but insisted the change would not see communities cut off from their local stations.

The chief constable said callers could be put thought to their local police after calling 101 if they so requested.

He said: "We will still have local police officers, still have local people working for us and they will still able to speak to them."

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