POLICE Scotland are committed to spending more than £20m to make contact more accessible, relevant and responsive to the needs of the public.

Proposals to introduce additional contact methods will be subject to future consultation but the force insists that the 999 and 101 services will always be available and that the needs of the public will be paramount.

New digital technology will replace the current analogue telephony infrastructure, and bring greater resilience to 999 and 101 services, which are essential to enabling the public to contact the police and to the delivery of local policing.

Assistant Chief Constable John Hawkins said: “This significant investment in new technology for our service will further protect and strengthen our emergency 999 and non-emergency 101 services for the public.

“We have taken action to support our 999 and 101 services and they performed well over the festive period against a backdrop of high demand and significant absence. Our committed officers and staff continue to provide a good service and prioritise our 999 emergency calls which are answered in under 10 seconds on average.

"The new digital system will provide greater resilience for these critical services and enable us to develop further ways the public can engage, making it easy, convenient and safe to contact the police.

“Proposals to introduce additional contact methods will be subject to consultation and engagement with our communities and I would emphasise that face-to-face and telephone contact through 999 and 101 will always be available. We know that being visible and making personal contact is important to our communities.

"Please continue to phone 999 for emergencies, or use 101 or Contact Us on the Police Scotland website for non-emergency enquiries."

This is a major investment in Police Scotland’s contact network, and for the 999 and 101 service, with an initial capital spend of £1.2m and ongoing revenue costs of £20.7m over the duration of the seven year contract.

Andrew Hendry, Chief Digital Information Officer, who is leading on Police Scotland’s digital transformation said: “The needs of the public will always be at the heart of any new service design and we aim to provide modern and easy-to-use options for people who need to contact their police service.

“This enabling technology is part of our wider digital transformation and will form a foundation across Police Scotland that other parts of the organisation will utilise and build upon.”