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Patrol car should have been sent to Piha

Police inquiry acknowledges patrol car should have been sent to Piha
National News Release 4:00pm 20 October 2004

An inquiry has been conducted and a report has been completed for review by the Police Complaints Authority into the triple one call made by Iraena Asher to Police.

Northern Communications Manager, Superintendent John Lyall and North Shore/Waitakere District Commander Roger Carson asked for the report to examine the actions Police staff took in response to the call from Iraena.

The report has found the final judgements and assessments which resulted in sending a taxi in response to her call was wrong in these circumstances.

The report which analyses the interactions of Iraena with Police and of internal discussions between Police staff indicates that Iraena's inwards call was handled in a highly professional way by the original call taker. Throughout the call Iraena made it clear she wanted assistance.

An event record of the call by Iraena was entered and presented and read by the dispatcher for the West Auckland area. He advised the Field Supervisor on duty at Waitakere Police Station and asked what action he wished to be taken. The Sergeant made a decision based on the information before him that Police would not attend but that a taxi should be called for Iraena.

The dispatcher was then tasked with calling Iraena back which he did. During this call it was agreed a taxi would be called and Iraena nominated two companies but decided on Discount Taxis. It was during this call Iraena also expressed fresh concerns about her position including a belief that she may have been given drugs. These concerns appear not to have been picked up on by the dispatcher who indicated he would call her back.

A short time later the dispatcher called the taxi company and then called Iraena back to advise her that the taxi was on the way. Iraena indicated concern that Police would not be attending and the dispatcher indicated that he would get the Sergeant to call her back.

The dispatcher called the Sergeant who reaffirmed his original view that Iraena was capable of leaving the address and seeking assistance. During that conversation the dispatcher used language that was inappropriate and disrespectful to Iraena.

The dispatcher then attempted to contact Iraena again, without success. The night shift dispatcher made further attempts to make contact, also without success. We now know Iraena had left the address and discarded the phone.

Superintendents Lyall and Carson say considering all the information Police had, a police patrol car should have been sent to Piha.

When Iraena called it took some time to establish whether it was an emergency or not. The conclusion of Police is that it was not an emergency but comments made by Iraena should have been triggers to the staff that a patrol car should still have been sent. Iraena told Police she was scared, this does not constitute an emergency but a car should have been sent.

"We are here not to offer excuses for the actions of our staff but rather an explanation. We are here to explain what happened, we have the report and the procedures are found to be deficient," say Superintendents Lyall and Carson.

A recommendation is being made to the Commissioner of Police that disciplinary action be taken regarding the conduct of some Police members involved in this incident.

Police continue their efforts to find Iraena and have apologised to the family for the initial handling of her call to Police.

Clearly this issue has exposed a deficiency in Police practice around arrangements of taxi services for callers to Police Communication Centres. As a result the Communication Centres have today been advised of interim changes to standard operating procedures to assist in the making of such decisions.

ENDS

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