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111 Report Backs Farmers' Concerns

11 May 2005
111 Report Backs Farmers' Concerns

An independent review of police communications' centres has vindicated farmers' concerns about the handling of 111 calls made from rural areas, said Charlie Pedersen, Vice President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

"It is very pleasing that the report has made recommendations picking up on many of the points our members felt were inhibiting the emergency response to rural emergencies," said Mr Pedersen.

The federation's submission in February made several strong recommendations including:
* Formalising rapid identification numbers of rural properties;
* Introducing geographic information system (GIS) technology for immediately identifying the location of rural callers;
* Introducing a specific rural strategy, or rural police liaison;
* Setting up an alternative response number to deal with non emergency calls;
* Strengthening relationships with other emergency services;
* Improving communications between districts and communications centres;
* Setting up an ability to immediately locate and divert the closest available police resource irrespective of its district.

"All of these points have been picked up by the panel and are now recommended for immediate attention by the police," Mr Pedersen said.

"However, farmers' concerns about the 'locking-lines-open' policy during a 111 incident do not, at first glance, appear to have been addressed in the report. This will worry farmers who feel let down by a system which stops them ringing their neighbours for help during an emergency.

"And while farmers welcome the formation of a citizen focus group, a rural strategy must spread across all police activities, not just apply to the 111 call centres.

"Over the past year the federation has been strengthening relations with police and we look forward to further actions as a result of the review that will enhance the security and safety of our members," Mr Pedersen said.


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