Calling emergency 111

NOTE: 111 calls are free. You can call this number on a mobile phone even if the phone is out of credit.

The operator will ask you which service you need and connect you to the right service.

Call 111 and ask for Police when:

  • someone is badly injured or in danger
  • there's a serious risk to life or property
  • a crime is being committed and the offenders are still there or have just left
  • you've come across a major public inconvenience, such as trees blocking a highway
  • any of these things are happening now or have just happened.

If you can't decide if it's a real emergency and you're still worried, call 111 and ask us. We'll help you work out what to do.

If it’s not an emergency phone your local police station.

What happens when you make a 111 call

When you call 111, a Spark operator will answer your call and ask which emergency service you want - Fire, Ambulance or Police. If it's Police, you'll be transferred to a Communications Centre in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. Your call might be answered in another centre if the one closest to you is busy. No matter where the call is answered, your local police will be on their way.

If you are calling from a mobile phone the  Emergency Caller Location Information (ECLI) system allows automatically generated information about the location of that device to be made available, at the time of the call, to the emergency service (Police, Fire or Ambulance). ECLI information indicates the approximate geographical position of a mobile device and is generated by an emergency 111 call from that device.  Using ECLI improves the accuracy and speed with which Emergency call takers can verify a caller’s location.

The system is managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the process and system has been included in a Code of Practice issued by the Privacy Commissioner. Police will only hold the ECLI for the purpose of responding to an emergency call and will keep a record of the information that was relied upon to respond to the call.

Like all personal information held by Police, an individual is entitled to access their personal information and to ask for it to be corrected if necessary. (See 'How do I request information about myself? Frequently Asked Question)

To access more detailed information about ECLI and a list of FAQ’s please refer to the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment website

What you'll be asked when you call 111

The police communicator will ask you three questions to start with:

  • where are you (where are police needed)?
  • how long ago did it happen?
  • what's happening now?

They'll also confirm your name, address and contact details.

Then you may be asked more questions, such as:

  • where is the person causing concern now?
  • do they have weapons?
  • if that person has left, which way did they go and how did they leave?
  • who are they? What do they look like and how are they dressed?
  • what's the number plate or description of their vehicle?
  • what else is happening?

At the same time as we're asking you for this information, if an emergency response is needed we're getting police on the way.

Help us to find you

It's critical in an emergency to accurately describe how police can find you. We don't always know where you are, especially if you're calling from a mobile phone.

If you're at home, it will be easier to give the police communicator the right information if you've written it down beforehand. Make sure you, your visitors or children can quickly provide:

  • phone number
  • suburb
  • town/district
  • RAPID number (available to rural residents from local authorities).

If you're on the move, give street, road or bridge names or other geographical features as reference points.

Children and 111

Make sure that your children know about the proper use of 111 emergency calls. 

Teach children about dialling 111 in emergencies with these fun activities.

Play games online with Buster the emergency 111 police dog [Buster website].

Communications Centres

Police have communications centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. They receive about 33,000 calls a week - that's 1.7 million calls a year.

Communications centres handle:

  • 111 emergency calls - when urgent assistance is needed
  • non-emergency calls - reporting less urgent incidents that don't need an immediate police response (including *555 traffic calls and calls to the Crime Reporting Line).

Become a police communicator

Police communicators deal with calls about burglaries, family violence, disputes, fights, crashes, armed robberies, search and rescues, homicides, dangerous driving, missing children, thefts and many other incidents.

Communicators find out what's happening and where, decide on the right police response and send information through to the police dispatchers who are responsible for getting police units on the way.

Are you quick at gathering and analysing information and keen to help people who need police assistance? Are you looking for a stepping stone to becoming a police officer? Then working as a police communicator could be the job for you.

We'd like to hear from you if you want to find out about becoming a police communicator.