If it’s less urgent than 999, 101 it! - No, don't bother actually...
A key Labour law and order pledge to set up a national non-emergency number to divert calls from the 999 system is to be shelved.
Ministers have decided not to extend the programme beyond pilot areas where it has been running over the summer.
The retreat has been signalled in confidential briefing papers leaked to The Daily Telegraph. They include guidelines to press officers on how to sustain a line that the scheme, which has cost millions to set up, has been a success. They are told to deny to callers that an election promise has been broken because phase one of the network has been introduced.
Interestingly Wiltshire Police in a Briefing Document entitled "CONFIDENTIAL - not for publication" - but put up on the web here reveal how the local Rozzers have already spent £100,000 developing a detailed proposal to apply to run one of these numbers in "Wave 2" and that "it is envisaged that the implementation bid will exceed £1 million and the operational bid will be approximately £850,000 per annum based upon the Home Office target volume of 30% of the population calling once in any one year. Implementation funding will be subject to a cash limit agreed at the outset. Ongoing funding will be paid on the basis of a fixed sum for the first 100,500 calls p.a. (15% of the population) and a sum per call thereafter (likely to be in the region of £3)."
They go on to note a range of potential problems but conclude:
"....however the potential benefits, both financially and customer service-wise, are deemed to outweigh these risks.
Diversity Assessment: There are very significant diversity implications for this project. The service provided will cater for different languages, as well as a range of different ways to contact 101 e.g. phone, e-mail, internet, text and textphone. The project will be aiming to provide levels of service to minority communities that are not currently available
Across the country £1.83 million has been blown on preparing for "Wave 2" - all to written off as yet another Home Office IT fiasco.