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Contacting the police - what you need to know

To contact the police you can call 10111 or 107, or phone the station, or phone the sector vehicle directly – but which one will get the best and quickest result?

If you’re calling for something routine, then the switchboard at your local police station is the best place to start. Bear in mind that your local station’s switchboard directs calls around the station for logistics, HR, functional policing, detectives, communications and more – that makes for a busy switchboard. 

Calls to 107 are routed to a combined emergency services line that can transfer you to fire, ambulance, police or any other emergency service you may need. This is really effective in a situation where you’re not quite sure what kind of assistance you need or if, for example, you need both the police and an ambulance. 

10111 is a central SAPS control room. All calls into this control room are recorded and you can ask for (if it’s not given automatically) a reference number for your call. Once a call is registered with 10111 it’s captured on the computer and a reference number is attached to it. The dispatcher then gives the call over to the closest vehicle and will wait for feedback from them before the call is closed. This way you’re at least certain that the call will be captured and tracked until the responsible vehicle provides feedback to the controller and closes the call. 

An added benefit of calling 10111 is that in most instances, if you’re calling from a Telkom line, the operator can immediately see your physical address. So in an emergency if the call goes dead, for example, they still have an address and know where to send a vehicle. 

In summary, 10111 should be treated as a police emergency line, with routine calls channeled directly to the station or sector vehicle. 

Always make sure that your domestic worker, children and anyone working or staying in your home know which number to dial. 

When calling an emergency number it’s vital that you give them key information clearly. You need to tell the dispatcher who you are, your exact address and very briefly what has happened. Don’t go into long explanations; they can’t do much to help you over the phone. Explain what type of help you need and how and why the situation is urgent. If a suspect has left the premises, tell them what he was wearing, what he did and in which direction he went – this way the vehicle responding can look out for suspects while heading towards you. 

Be assured: despite a lot of negative publicity, the policemen and women on the ground are there because they really do want to help and are willing to do so. You need to arm them with as much clear information as possible to help them help you.