101 is the 's non-emergency police phone number.

Would they ever lead you to believe when asking outright on the phone whether you have any warrants or circulations that all is well when that wasn't actually the case?

More broadly, what is the legality of police lying to people while on duty in the UK?

Update (on behalf of OP)

Its been suggested in comments, that this may be a useful alternative phrasing of the question to add here:

"I want to find out if there is a UK arrest warrant, wanted status, or open inquiry of any kind on police records, about me. Apart from physically visiting a police station with ID, is there a safe or easy way to get this information? (And also, can those I ask, deceive me about it?)"

The original question title was : "If one calls 101 (police line) and asks if one is wanted or has an open arrest warrant in the UK, could the line operator conceivably deceive them?"

  • 13
    The final paragraph should really be another question.
    – user35069
    Mar 3, 2022 at 18:50
  • 2
    Interesting. When the UK was still in the EU, GDPR Art. 15 may have been relevant! Mar 4, 2022 at 11:51
  • 4
    It's not clear what you're asking. To be clear, you intend to call 101, announce your name and personally identifying information, and then ask them to tell you whether or not you are wanted or if there are any warrants for your arrest? Is that correct? And you're curious whether or not they would lie to you if you did so? Or are you interested only in whether or not they are required to give you this information? This sounds really paranoid. Did you commit a crime and are you trying to find out if they're on to you? I'm finding it difficult to understand your motivations here...
    – J...
    Mar 4, 2022 at 12:45
  • 8
    @J... One legitimate scenario could be OP was on the receiving end of a scam phone call saying there is an open arrest warrant against them (unless they pay the caller a fee). In march it's especially common to receive scam calls claiming to be from HMRC saying you haven't paid tax.
    – camjocotem
    Mar 4, 2022 at 14:02
  • 2
    I hope it's OK to answer the question which Stilez suggested might have been a better question to ask (a suggestion with which I agree) ... Ohan I can't help with you what happens when you call 101 but if you go here acro.police.uk/subject_access.aspx you can request all information held on the PNC related to you.
    – glaucon
    Mar 5, 2022 at 10:06

5 Answers 5


With respect to the updated question if you go here acro.police.uk/subject_access.aspx you can request all information held on the PNC related to you.


The role of the 101 call handlers is to assist with enquiries and to progress reports of non-emergency incidents - not deceive.

They are not (usually) police officers do not (routinely) have access to PNC. Even if they did, they are under no obligation to divulge potentially operationally-sensitive and/or personal information over the phone; especially as the caller's identity cannot be verified.

In response to comments and the OP edit on 09/03/2022...

The police will not confirm if you are wanted on warrant over the phone. You must attend your local police station and bring some form of identification with you such as a passport, driving licence or birth certificate. Source1

You can find your local police force here

1A random example taken from one of the 43 territorial police forces in

  • Although if you phoned them and told them that you had outstanding warrants, they'd likely send a police unit around to your house to investigate.
    – Richard
    Mar 4, 2022 at 19:18
  • 1
    How could operators of the main police switchboard not have access to PNC? Being under no obligation is one thing, but realistically would they typically divulge information about one's wanted status as a matter of principle?
    – Ohan
    Mar 5, 2022 at 0:21
  • 6
    @Ohan - How do they know that you are you? Over the phone it is realistically difficult to prove identity, and if they did give out that information then anyone could find out anyone's wanted status.
    – IronEagle
    Mar 5, 2022 at 0:32
  • 1
    To be fair, they could have some kind of very-restricted access to the PNC. It would be a very badly-designed database system if all users could access all data without any access-controls.
    – Dai
    Mar 5, 2022 at 6:49
  • 1
    A friend of mine said from personal experience that you can just ring up any police station and ask if you have any warrants because you'd like to turn yourself in, in which case they may give you a date and time window to report in.
    – Ohan
    Mar 8, 2022 at 21:39

In general, police are allowed to lie to you in the course of their duties. For example, they conducted a sting operation involving a fake TV show back in 2004 to catch people with open warrants.

In the specific case of interview under caution, there are PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) restrictions on certain forms of lying to suspects in order to get them to confess. Including, "we already have found your fingerprints/DNA at the crime scene, so you might as well admit it", or even the old fashioned "your accomplice has already implicated you". However, they may still try to mislead you, so you should not try to beat the police at their own game but have legal representation present, and listen to their advice.

  • 4
    One UK case not involving lies: A guy's wife was missing. Police dug up his garden. They found a skull. He confessed to the murder right there. Next day the skull came back from forensics: It was about 1,200 years old!.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 6, 2022 at 13:51
  • Wow, this is incredible, @gnasher729.
    – Ohan
    Mar 8, 2022 at 21:40

As an ex 101 and 999 operator I can categorically answer this. The operator will usually be a civilian not a sworn officer. They can look on PNC to see if you are wanted, but would normally just look on their local systems, unless they can see a glaring "wanted on warrant by another force" especially if your name/ phone number is already known to them to check you were not wanted for a serious crime, even if you were they WOULD NOT tell you, they would simply alert the officer/ station looking for you, depending on the seriousness of the alleged crime. The reason for this is as exactly described I could for example give Name, date of birth and home address of a friend of mine and the person on the phone who talks to 30-50 people A DAY, over a 10 hour shift would not know I was not my friend. The operator (call taker) would then be in breach of GDPR, with potentially very large fines for them and or the police service, not even to say operationally difficult, as generally if a person is thought they are wanted they go to ground or disappear and normally has a reason to think they may be, either they have gotten away with something or think that an officer may be looking for them. Even if an officer comes to your address and you are not there they will simply ask the person who answered the door to confirm their identity and ask you to contact them be this for an arranged voluntary interview or arrest by appointment. Most arrests are by appointment these days, so there is minimal waiting around for duty solicitors, this has the advantage of less waisted custody time for you and longer for them to get evidence to prove or disprove your involvement.

The same goes for a "missing person" who you believe to be in Custody, if they are an adult they have a chance to make a phone call to another adult to let them know they are in custody, unless it is operationally prudent to keep the person "incommunicado" , ie a person may destroy evidence or if they are wanted for this or similar crime they again may go "missing themselves". They will ask you what efforts have you made to find them, ie have you called them, gone to their address, contacted the local a&e, when did you last speak to them or how often do you speak to them, Do they have any special needs that make them more vulnerable. If they are in custody they may tell you "we have no concerns for their safety", it generally means they are in Custody or we have contacted them and they have assured our officers they are safe. They are trying to get you to read between the lines. Do not keep asking can you tell me if they are in Custody or the reply you will get will sound like a broken record, I cannot tell you as they are an adult and would have a right to contact a person . We do however have no concerns at this time. (a child/ person with obvious learning difficulties or ability to communicate is slightly different, but they would need to be convinced that the person is the child's parent/ guardian and normally this would either be a check from a known phone number ringing in or the custody sergeant would make the decision if they wanted to speak to you.)


Dude. DO NOT call the police and bug them with this question. Plus, it sounds like you're hesitant to call the police station in the first place. So I suggest don't even bother with that route.

I can tell you right now, the most successful and resourceful thing for you to do to find out about a possible warrant would be to just call the court where you were supposed to see(or have seen) a judge at in the first place. The courthouse is the one asking for your arrest, not the police. Therefore, any information regarding your case, including an arrest warrant&what you need to do in order to squash the warrant(most often is done without police involvement) or perhaps you have a failure to pay warrant&want to pay some of your court fees before seeing a judge again or whatever else you want on your case information, any questions would be best answered by them. {and just in case you're still unsure about the legitimacy of what you're being told, try to remember that it's their information in the first place. So 99.999% chance what you are being told about your criminal status is the most accurate truth.

So, to make it easier for you I went ahead and did the search for you. so all you have to do is click on the link for you to directly to UK's court search page and you can go from there. I live in America so I'm not 100%sure this is what you're looking for. But based on your question, it sounds like calling the courthouse will get your answer. Hopefully this helps!! And remember to stay positive!! {{Who knows, even if you do have a warrant, I'm sure your charges are only minor and are allowed to rearrange for a new court date, in front of a judge again. Judges prefer to see a person with a warrant appear on their own terms than appear because they were caught by police-it shows responsibility but also mature humility.}}

So yeah,, I got my fingers crossed for you dude. 🤞🤞🤞 GOOD LUCK! stay safe&stay healthy


**when you call the courthouse, you're going to want to speak with someone either in Records or Administration or unless otherwise specified on(what I'm assuming)the automated system.

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