Feeds

Vodafone slurps MEELLLIONS for redirecting police hotline calls

Ringing the Old Bill will still cost 15p/pop

High performance access to file storage

Vodafone is making more than £2m a year from public reporting of non-emergency crime, and has just landed another three-year contract - charging 15p per non-emergency call to police.

Calls made to the non-emergency "101" number are routed by Cable & Wireless to the nearest police authority and dealt with at public expense. All Vodafone-owned C&W does is forward the call and collect the cash.

The Mail on Sunday has crunched the numbers - 15 pence per call; nearly 27 million calls since September 2010; and 60 per cent average markup on government services in C&W accounts - and worked itself into an indignant fury based on the result.

This all adds up to revenues of £4m and profits of more than £2m, according to the Mail, just for forwarding a few phone calls.

However, as with anything involving the state, it's not really that simple.

The great thing about 101 is that while it costs 15 pence, that is a flat one-off charge; whether you're calling from mobile or fixed lines, and without regard for the call length. Calls are routed to the local police station, even if one is on a mobile phone, and callers on a border between two police forces can choose which one to speak to.

Police forces also contribute a carriage cost of around a third of a tenth of a penny per minute (~0.03p), so the 15 pence goes to C&W to cover the cost of routing the calls, mobile network charges and negotiating with all the parties concerned. The police say neither they nor the government receive any of the revenue from the 15p call charge.

That negotiation worked so well that Ofcom was planning the same model for the NHS Direct-replacing "111" service, though the Home Office decided to make it free when it was finally rolled out last month. 111 is routed to local outsourcing outfits - some of whom have let the side down lately.

When 101 first launched, back in 2006, it went badly. Hampshire's chief constable complained that the service had turned his force into a provider of train timetables and tourist information. Expansion of the 111 service was shelved when it failed to cut the volume of 999 calls, as had been hoped.

Since then the service has been carefully promoted and seems to be working better, with Vodafone telling the Mail that callers reporting stolen cars and broken windows are overwhelmingly happy with the service they've received. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
Skype pimps pro-level broadcast service
Playing Cat and Mouse with the media
Beat it, freetards! Dyn to shut down no-cost dynamic DNS next month
... but don't worry, charter members, you're still in 'for life'
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.