When you call 999 or 101
We know how important it is that you are able to contact the police when you need us, whether in an emergency or for information and advice.
When you contact Police Scotland via phone or online, your contact goes to one of our national service centres overseen by Contact, Command & Control Division (C3). Each call is automatically directed to the next available service advisor. Your geographical location has no impact on how quickly your call is answered.
Our service advisors are highly skilled and are specially trained to risk assess all contacts into Police Scotland using our THRIVE assessment – which identifies the Threat, Harm, Risk, Investigative Potential, Vulnerabilities and Engagement opportunities. The THRIVE assessment ensures each person receives the right response.
Every contact, whether through 999, 101 or via Contact Us (online), goes through this assessment process. The outcome can result in:
- advice and guidance at first point of contact
- progressed to one of our Area Control Rooms for deployment of police resources
- a face-to-face or telephone appointment being scheduled
- being passed to our Resolution Team for non-immediate investigation, advice and direct crime recording.
Should I dial 999 or 101?
You should dial 999 when there is an emergency, such as:
- a threat to life
- a crime is in progress
- any other serious incident that requires an immediate police response.
For all other enquiries such as non-emergency issue, you should dial 101 or use the Contact Police Scotland facility on the Police Scotland website.
Police Scotland will always prioritise 999 emergency calls over 101 non-emergency calls. This can sometimes mean longer wait times for 101 calls but it is essential we ensure the people who require urgent emergency assistance can get the help they need as soon as possible.
Our response to contact from the public is person-centred and at the heart of all decision making is ensuring the safety of anyone in need.
Remember in an emergency always call 999.
When you report an emergency
If you are reporting an emergency, the first question you will be asked is ‘What is the address of your emergency?’. It is essential we can quickly get the exact location to ensure police can get to you if this is needed.
Our highly trained service advisors will then ask a range of questions depending on the circumstances, to ensure a full assessment of the situation can be made to protect the caller, responding officers and the wider public.
You can also contact us via our Online Reporting Form
You can also complete our online reporting form Online Reporting Form | Police Scotland to report matters such as domestic abuse, stalking, hate crime, harassment, and lost property.
These reports all undergo the same THRIVE risk assessment as any calls into Police Scotland and are responded to in a similarly appropriate manner.
For non-urgent issues use our Contact Police Scotland facility
If your report is non-urgent you can use the Contact Police Scotland facility on the Police Scotland website.
Does your issue need the police?
Our service advisors spend a lot of time each day answering calls. Many of these are made by people who want advice on matters that are not actually the responsibility of the police.
Before making a call to 101 to report a non-emergency issue you could read our 'before you call 101' page to find out if there is another service or specific support available which is better able to help you with your issue.
If you dial 999 by accident, please stay on the line and confirm everything is okay. You are not in any trouble as we know that mistakes can happen.
A 999 call is recorded as ‘discontinued’ when it’s answered but the caller disconnects before speaking to police or the operator. When this happens, various checks are made to ensure the caller is safe and well. These checks are carried out by Area Control Room staff and can be extremely time consuming, taking them away from those who need their help most.
You can limit the risk of pocket dialling emergency services by:
- Locking your phone before putting it in your pocket or bag
- Getting to know your phone’s emergency dial buttons
- Keeping your phone out of reach of young children
Our behind the scenes support
Area Control Rooms
Our Area Control Rooms are responsible for managing incidents and local policing resources for specific local policing divisions. We have three Area Control Rooms which cover the North, East and West of the country.
Specialist colleagues will deploy local policing resources to calls where a police response is deemed appropriate, with priority given to those incidents which require an immediate police response. They will check that calls have been assessed appropriately to ensure that people get the right response to meet their needs.
Area Control Rooms can also call upon a wide range of specialist resources when required, including the air support unit, road policing resources, dog units and armed policing. Area Control Rooms will also request the support of partner emergency services including Scottish Fire & Rescue, Scottish Ambulance and HM Coastguard.
The Resolution Team
Our Resolution Team conduct non-immediate remote investigation into incidents and crime reports, provide advice and guidance to the public in relation to a wide range of police-related matters, and take crime reports over the telephone (sometimes called direct crime recording) which can be arranged by scheduled appointment.
Embedded within the Resolution Team are NHS mental health professionals who can assist people in distress or experiencing poor mental health.
Police Scotland receives over three million contacts a year.
Each day on average we receive two thousand emergency 999 calls and over four thousand non-emergency 101 calls.
We will always prioritise 999 calls. This means you may experience longer waiting times when calling 101, particularly at busy times. This is only so we can ensure that when you need us most, we will be there.
If you don’t want to wait on your 101 call being answered you can send us information or ask a question online.
Police Scotland continue to invest and enhance the future of Police contact to increase public safety and wellbeing by making it easy and safe to report a crime and get information and feedback - enabled by digital services and keeping the public and partners engaged and involved.
The Modernised Contact and Engagement Programme will deliver accessible and responsive approaches based on people’s needs and circumstances eg using voice, video and text, social media, and providing face to face reassurance where needed.