Phone calls to police will be free as of today.

After a £7 million investment from the Home Office, the general public will not have to pay for 101 non-emergency calls to the police.

Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, has welcomed the announcement but urged the public to always consider using online services in the first instance, which are processed in the same way as a call, to ensure the 101 service is not overwhelmed.

Ms Hernandez said: “I welcome yesterday’s announcement, especially at this uncertain time when people are calling in to seek clarification on a range of non-urgent issues relating to Covid-19 and not necessarily crime related.

"It gives the public the reassurance, especially those of us who may not have been able to physically get or afford credit on their mobile phones that they can call 101 in a non-emergency and not have to worry about the cost.

“However, it is vital that our 101 system is not overwhelmed with calls from the public and I urge them to familiarise themselves with the range of online services available to them such as 101 webchat or the force’s online crime reporting form – both found on the force’s website.”

Other options for those who do not want to report directly to the police, due to fear of reprisals or because they are apprehensive, include the confidential and anonymous service run by Crimestoppers and the newly launched 24/7 Victim Webchat and phone line.

The police have warned that while most members of the public will be able to use the service free of charge from today, until July 1 there remained a "chance" that users of small operators would be charged for using the 101 service. The Home Office would be urging those providers to refund their customers.