Southern police boss pleased with response times

The time it took for police to respond to urgent callouts in urban Southland last year was 10 minutes faster than the national response time.

Figures issued to The Southland Times under the Official Information Act show 90 per cent of priority one events in the region's urban areas were responded to within 16 minutes and 8 seconds in 2011, well down on the national time of 26 minutes, 51 seconds.

In rural Southland, response times were slightly higher than across the rest of rural New Zealand.

Seventy-eight per cent were attended within 10 minutes, and 90 per cent were responded to within 42 minutes, 55 seconds.

Southern District commander Superintendent Bob Burns said yesterday response times were good in both rural and urban areas but a range of factors had to be considered.

"Southern is the largest district, geographically, in the country. We police 24 per cent of [New Zealand's] land mass, which includes the largest network of sealed and unsealed roads. We have a higher proportion of people living in widespread rural localities than other policing districts and this, of course, presents challenges in response times. If a call is made when one of our rural staff is off-duty this adds to the response times."

Southern police aimed to attend 90 per cent of urban priority-one events within 10 minutes, and 90 per cent of rural priority one events within 30 minutes.

" . . . We still have some work to do in relation to our rural goal," Mr Burns said.

The growth in the dairy industry had an impact on the number of priority-one calls in Southland, with an increase in calls relating to wandering stock.

Priority one events are those deemed urgent and requiring an immediate response, including where there was a threat to life or property at the time, violence was being used or threatened, a serious offence was being committed and the offender was present or just leaving the scene, or a serious vehicle crash, he said.

Area commander Southland Inspector Lane Todd said Southland had a high number of one- and two-person stations which could impact on response times.

alana.dixon@stl.co.nz

The Southland Times