Embargoed until 5.30pm, Monday 26 June 2006
Police are releasing more details on plans to demonstrate a new non-emergency phone service in November.
Police Minister Annette King is attending a function tonight at the Northern Communications Centre where members of the Police project team developing the new service will speak about plans for non-emergency call handling.
Project Manager Superintendent Steve Christian says plans are progressing well for a demonstration of the service to begin in November.
Separate office space is being set up in the Northern Communications Centre for the demonstration project and recruiting will begin in July for 46 new staff.
The demonstration will take the non-emergency calls (ie, where the caller has dialled a police station rather than 111) coming in to the Communications Centres' general queue from the Auckland City and Bay of Plenty Districts.
If the demonstration shows that the service is suitable for a national roll-out and full approvals are received, then a 24-hour service handling all the country's non-emergency calls could be operating by 2008.
Mr Christian says the single non-emergency number concept is being developed for two reasons.
"First, we want to improve the 111 emergency system by reducing the volume of non-urgent calls taken in the Communications Centres.
"Non-emergency calls represent around 65% of all calls coming into the Centres. Creating a separate channel for those calls was recommended in 2005 by the Independent External Panel set up to review the Communications Centres."
He says the second reason for introducing a single non-emergency service is to provide the public with a convenient telephone access point to communicate with Police about non-urgent crime and incidents.
"We expect that direct access to Police via the service will improve public satisfaction."
Once the demonstration has been running for a few months, a decision will be taken on whether to scale up to a national service. It will go ahead only if the demonstration has proved viable and Police districts are ready for it.
At this point it hasn't been decided where a national service would be housed or what the non-emergency number might be, although ideally it would be less than the usual seven digits and easy to remember.
For more information contact:
Debbie Corney, ph 02743 55005
Leanne Frisbie, ph 027 223 6743
NB: Superintendent Christian will be available for interviews after 6.30pm when the function at the Northern Communications Centre ends.