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News : Time-wasting Police 111 Calls
Wellington, New Zealand, Dec 24, 2015 -- It seems not everyone realises the police 111 emergency line is not their personal taxi service or an audience for testing out their latest slice of comedy gold.
From kids calling to complain their siblings won't let them change the channel to someone who called to say there was a snail in her fridge, sample data released under the Official Information Act shows of about 1.84 million calls to the 111 network over 2014/2015.
Of these, 791,662 were emergency calls. The rest were "genuine calls" but not quite so urgent.
National communications centre operations manager Inspector Mal Schwartfeger said the centres not only handled 111 calls, but also general calls, *555 calls and calls for assistance by key partner agencies.
"We have no way of identifying which calls are false calls for service, but the proportion of false calls to genuine would be very small," he said.
For emergency calls, the Spark 111 Initial Call Answer Point - where all emergency calls are first answered and put through to the emergency service requested - acted as a triage point, Schwartfeger said.
"Calls such as kids playing on the phone, pocket or handbag dials of cell phones, and other similar false calls are stopped there before reaching any of the emergency services."
Schwartfeger said police did not want to discourage people from calling 111 if they are genuinely in need of assistance, and will always treat every call as genuine until established otherwise.
Most non-genuine calls are accidental, with the highest proportion caused by "pocket dials" followed by children playing on the phone.
However, Schwartfeger said police faced an ongoing challenge in managing non-genuine 111 calls, which could affect the force's ability to respond to real emergency calls.
"Non-emergency calls can take up valuable time and may cause a delay for someone in a life-threatening situation. This is why we ask the public to play their part by using 111 for genuine emergencies only," he said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, December 28, 2015