Family fumes at police no-show

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2014

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Crime

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A police crime reporting line is again under fire for not sending a proper copper to follow up a theft complaint.

The O'Hanlon family of Eltham are the latest to be left high and dry by police after their case was suspended the same day it was reported, despite not sending an officer to their home.

The family's problem throws the spotlight once again on the phone system which means calls are now answered centrally.

Frontline officers are frustrated at the system but none are prepared to speak on the record to the Daily News about the issue.

They are often taking the flak from public over a reporting system they have no control over.

However, police brass say they that in the O'Hanlon case, they were following procedure.

Central District operations manager Inspector Murray Drummond said the information gleaned "was not enough to deploy an officer".

"There were limited lines of inquiry that could be initiated and the likelihood of an apprehension or prosecution in this case was minimal," he said.

Late last month, Katrina O'Hanlon called police to report items stolen from her children's cars.

After the operator talked to her son, they waited for police to arrive. Instead of an officer going to their home, they later received a letter stating "after looking at all the available evidence we have not been able to find out who is responsible".

The letter was dated the same day as their call.

"I was mad," Katrina O'Hanlon said. "How can you have insufficient evidence when no-one came round?"

Katrina O'Hanlon contacted the Taranaki Daily News after reading of another man's wrangle with the phone system.

New Plymouth's Gordon Jones received a similar letter after his house was pelted with rocks.

"It's just frustrating," Katrina O'Hanlon said. "If it happened to us, it's happening to other people."

Infuriated by the letter, her husband, Antony, called police to get some answers.

"They didn't even know there were two cars involved," he said.

Mr O'Hanlon said if the police had sent an officer, they would have easily got the full picture.

"We were told that, with the extra information, it now warranted someone coming around but we still haven't heard anything."

Then another letter arrived.

"A few days later we got another letter saying our complaint had been put forward to the police complaints authority," Katrina O'Hanlon said.

"We didn't actually want to lay a complaint about how it was handled, we just wanted someone to come round."

The couple said they understood their local police officer was not informed about the crime and they believed that if he was, it would have been solved.

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Drummond said the information provided would form part of their "targeted prevention tasks conducted by local officers in the effort to prevent ongoing offending".

He said the crime reporting line was one facet of the policing excellence strategy that was aimed at getting officers away from desks and getting them out on the streets to focus on crime prevention and proactive policing activities.

"Since this programme was introduced three years ago, crime across New Zealand has reduced.

"Reports received through the crime reporting line are thoroughly assessed and a decision to not send an officer is not made lightly."

- Taranaki Daily News

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