Thousands of 111 calls dropped

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 11:38 31/01/2013

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More than 4000 emergency calls to police were abandoned in 2011 and the Green Party says we can, and must, do better.

Figures released under the Official Information Act show 4149 national emergency calls to police were abandoned in 2011, down from 5716 om 2010 and 7063 in 2009.

Abandoned calls were at their lowest - 3406 - in 2008.

Calls are considered abandoned when they are not answered after two minutes and are reentered into the queue, when the event is escalated before police takeover the call from Telecom, or when the call was put through to the wrong emergency service.

Superintendent Dave Trappitt, acting national manager communication centres, said it was wrong to suggest the calls went unanswered.

''We either answer every call or if the person hangs up or is disconnected, we make every effort to contact them back to make sure they're ok.''

Mr Trappitt said provisional figures for 2012 show 1356 calls were abandoned.The percentage of calls involve was very low, he said.

In 2011, 727,124 calls were extended to police by Telecom operators. That does not include calls put through to other emergency services.

The goal is to answer 90 per cent of emergency calls within 10 seconds.

In the 2011/12 financial year police achieved 92 per cent, Mr Trappitt said.

''The other side of the equation is caller behaviour, which also drives abandonment. Even under emergency circumstances some callers will hang up or their situation has changed and they are no longer need police.''

Green MP David Clendon said while there had been an improvement, abandoned rates were still too high.

''People rely heavily on 111."

In a perfect world all calls to 111 would be answered quickly.

Mr Clendon said he accepted there would always be some malicious or prank calls but the rate could be better.

''They are emergency calls after all. People don't dial 111 lightly.''

Improvements needed to be made urgently, he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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