THE non-emergency phone number to contact South Yorkshire Police has changed from he usual Sheffield number to 101.

101 replaces the previous 0114 2202020 non-emergency number for the whole of South Yorkshire, which will be gradually phased out - it comes after statistics show approximately a third of all 999 calls received by South Yorkshire Police are not genuine emergencies.

A spokesman for the police said: "To clarify some of the comments and misconceptions on this issues we can confirm that some people who were able to call the previous non-emergency numbers on their inclusive call packages will be charged more than they were previously.

"However, for many 101 will be cheaper than the previous cost of calling the police when it is not an emergency as calls to some other existing police non-emergency numbers can cost over £1.25 for a five minute call on pay-as-you-go tariffs.

"101 is a service made available to members of the public to be used in situations that do not require an immediate police response. As such, it is appropriate that a contribution is made to the cost of providing this service.

"The police service has always charged for non-emergency related calls and the introduction of the national 101 number allows for this cost to be standardised across the country."

The Home Office says it will work with the major telephone operators to explore the possibility of including ‘101’ calls in call packages.