THE county's police and crime commissioner has welcomed news that the charge for calling the force's non-emergency number is to be scrapped.

The Home Office has announced that from April 2020, it will spend £5 million a year to meet the connection costs. At present, the telephony provider charges 101 callers a 15p connection fee.

Wiltshire and Swindon PCC Angus Macpherson said: “We’re in the process of improving officer numbers in community policing teams, and it’s important to me that the police are as accessible as possible and today’s announcement is a really positive step forward.

“A lot has gone into improving the force’s performance in answering 101 calls and those most affected by this charge, which goes directly to the telephony provider, tend to be those most vulnerable.

“Reporting crime, passing on intelligence or ringing for an update should not cost callers 15p, and this is good news for victims and the people of Wiltshire.”

The PCC said that over the past two years, much investment has gone into improving the performance of the force’s crime and communications centre after concerns about its performance.

The time is takes to answer a 101 call has improved from just over five minutes in 2017 to 1.21minutes at the end of 2018.

Since then, abandonment rates have dropped 17 per cent from 22.2 per cent in 2017 to 4.8 per cent this year.