Page last updated at 00:47 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 01:47 UK

Councils agree to save 101 line

101 logo
The 101 service has helped free up police time, supporters say

A non-emergency phone line planned as an alternative to 999 has been rescued by a group of councils after funding was halted by the Home Office.

The 101 line, due to be axed after 21 months of trials, responds to low-level incidents such as noise disruption.

Now Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Newcastle and Sunderland, Cardiff and Sheffield City Council have said they will continue running the service.

The 101 number had been proposed in Labour's 2005 election manifesto.

It was piloted in five areas, allowing members of the public to report nuisance behaviour such as vandalism and fly-tipping.

Extra police

The scheme was meant to roll out to all forces by the end of this year, but faced criticism for failing to reduce the pressure on 999 phone operators.

However, the Local Government Association said "rescue packages" had been put together by town halls and police forces.

This will mean the 101 number will be in operation for at least another year in the participating areas.

According to the LGA, Cardiff's 101 number received 230,000 calls since its launch in June 2006, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight took 380,000 since May 2006, while Leicester and Rutland's version took 60,000 in the 12 months from September 2006.

Sheffield received 100,000 calls in its initial 18 months, while over 280,000 were made to the line in Northumbria from July 2006.

The service has helped councils and local police work together
Hazel Harding
Local Government Association

South Wales Police had been able to redeploy 25 extra police officers to neighbourhood policing as a result of the line, the LGA said.

The LGA's Hazel Harding said it was disappointing that the Home Office had discontinued funding.

She added: "The service has helped councils and local police work together to target their resources and tackle the non-emergency problems most concerning local people."

Leicester and Rutland's 101 line was switched off in December 2007. It also seemed likely to end in the rest of the Northumbria pilot area outside Newcastle and Sunderland, the LGA said.

Crime line to take its last call
07 Dec 07 |  Leicestershire
Non-emergency crime line to close
26 Nov 07 |  Leicestershire
Crime hotline loses funding
15 Nov 07 |  South Yorkshire

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