Non-emergency 101 calls to become free

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Calls to the 101 police non-emergency number will be free from April 2020.

The Home Office has announced that it will scrap the 15p charge and spend £5m a year to fund the phone service in the UK.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the move would benefit "millions of people every year".

Victims Commissioner in England and Wales Baroness Newlove - who previously criticised the charge - called it a "step in the right direction".

The phone service, which receives around 30m calls annually, connects the public to their local police force or one of their choice.

The 101 number was introduced in December 2011 to free-up calls to 999. It is for reporting non-emergency incidents such as criminal damage, anti-social behaviour or stolen vehicles.

Baroness Newlove - who is responsible for promoting the interests of victims and witnesses - said she was "pleased" the Home Office had "listened and taken action".

"I also want police and the Home Office to consider how to improve the speed and quality of responses so that the public have full confidence in this important frontline service," she added.

Mr Javid said: "It's vital members of public have confidence in the police and are able to report any non-emergency incidents in a convenient and accessible way.

"Scrapping the charge for making a 101 call will benefit millions of people every year - especially the vulnerable."

Vodafone will scrap the charge from the end of this month for its pay-as-you-go customers.

The Home Office is also funding the creation of a new website where the public will be able to contact the police and report crimes.

The service, named the Single Online Home (SOH), will be fully launched in the summer.