Thursday, 2 February 2006 - 4:00pm |
National News

Police examine option for non urgent calls

3 min read

Police are setting up a project team to investigate the feasibility of a non-emergency phone number and service, aimed at reducing pressure on the 111 system and improving public access to Police.

National Communications Centre Manager, Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald, says the project will take place this year, culminating in a trial in Auckland. The Police Executive and Board of Commissioners approved the initiative in November last year.

“The Communications Centres handle approximately 1.7 million calls per year, but only a third of them are emergency calls. Many of the 111 calls into the Communications Centres are not emergencies. This creates undue pressure on the 111 system and frustrates those who are calling with genuine reasons for immediate police attendance.”

Police Minister Annette King is backing the decision to set up the project team.

"The Independent Review Panel report into Communications Centres, released in May last year, identified a single non-emergency number as a specific recommendation* for consideration, and I am pleased it is a step closer,” she says.

“Although such numbers exist overseas, it is not just a simple matter of doing it here, however. We have to make sure a number is set up in a way that works for New Zealanders in the New Zealand context.”

Superintendent Fitzgerald says that since May last year, Police have investigated potential options for improving the efficiency of New Zealand's 111 system and have identified a non-emergency phone number and service as a viable option.

"We have already liaised closely with Australian and other police jurisdictions where an alternative number and service to the main emergency number is in place. We have also recently been visited by two Thames Valley (England) Police senior management and learned of their experiences of introducing a non emergency number and associated service," he says.

"An option being considered is to start in the 'back room' by taking the general call queue that operates through the Northern Communications Centre and dealing with those calls either in another part of the Centre or in a physically separate centre.

"There are many factors to be considered in planning for and developing this initiative. A project team, led by Superintendent Steve Christian, will be brought together as soon as practicable to begin planning the work involved."

Superintendent Christian has been seconded to the project from his role as National Manager: Youth Services.

Non-emergency, police assistance lines are in place in overseas jurisdictions such as New South Wales, South and West Australia, USA and the UK.

Typically, a non emergency number provides the public with a dedicated number to contact police directly about crimes and incidents of a non urgent or historical nature. A range of services are usually available through the number such as reporting offences and incidents, gathering information from the public and providing Police advice and assistance.

*IRP Recommendation 9. As part of the Communications Strategy, consideration should be given to the future establishment of a Single Non-Emergency Number (SNEN).]

Issued by Media Relations

Ph: 02743 55005 or after hours 026 101082.

Media Note: Visit to Central Communications Centre Tonight

Police Minister Hon Annette King and Mayors Kerry Prendergast (Wellington), Jenny Brash (Porirua) and Wayne Guppy (Upper Hutt) are visiting the Central Communications Centre at Wellington Central Police Station this evening, Thursday 2 February.

There will be a media opportunity for photographs etc at 8pm. Media wanting to attend are asked to contact Debbie Corney on 02743 55005 to arrange access to the Communications Centre.