FEWER than 40 per cent of people in North Yorkshire know to use 101 to report non-emergencies to the police.

Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan commissioned a survey which included a focus group in North Yorkshire but covered England and Wales, over concerns about the 101 number.

Nationally, the report found 62 per cent of people knew the police have a non-emergency number, 37 per cent knew the number, but only 30 per cent both knew the number and understood when it should be used. In North Yorkshire, the survey showed 38 per cent of people understood this.

Mrs Mulligan said: "The 101 number was introduced to help people report incidents to their local force easily and to reduce pressure on the 999 emergency line, so three years after its launch, it’s worrying that awareness of the number is so low."

In North Yorkshire, one in seven people who used 101 to report an incident hung up before their call was answered, while 10 per cent waited more than a minute for their call to be answered.

North Yorkshire Police intends to look more closely at the ability to contact police through their website or via text message.

Chief Superintendent Amanda Oliver said: "It is heartening that this latest survey shows that North Yorkshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to awareness of 101, but it is still clear that we need to take every opportunity we possibly can to remind people of the 101 non-emergency number and when to use it.

"We answer a quarter of a million 101 calls each year in our Force Control Room, and 60 percent of these are answered within five seconds. However - as the report mentions - a number of people abandon their call before we can answer it, preferring to call again rather than wait for a response. Our internal research shows that with 40 percent of these abandoned calls, the caller hangs up within sixty seconds, so we’re already working on ways to make sure we answer calls in less than a minute, to reduce the need for people to hang up and call back."

The full report is available at northyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/publications from today.