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Restoring confidence in communication centres

11 May, 2005

Budget 2005 Restoring confidence in communication centres

The Government is responding immediately to a Police request for additional resources to address problems identified by an Independent Review into Communication Centres, Police Minister George Hawkins said today.

"Earlier this year I made a promise to address whatever resource issues arose from the Review into communication centres," said Mr Hawkins.

"The Police Commissioner identified the need for more resources last month, after receiving a draft of the report. I then moved immediately to make a late bid for funding through Budget 2005.

"As a result, the Government is committing $45.5 million over four years, over and above Vote: Police initiatives already agreed through the normal Budget process.

"The Review has found a number of areas for improvement and this Government is giving the Police Commissioner the resources he has indicated he needs to fix them and restore public confidence in the 111 system.

"The Review has provided exactly the sort of systems-check needed to identify the shortcomings within our vital emergency service and it has concluded 'they are all fixable'."

Police identified four broad areas of the of the communications system where the Review's findings indicated a need for immediate action: additional communication and despatch staff; enhanced training systems; additional radio channels and improved management systems and structures.

"The additional funds will enhance the ability of the Commissioner to take these actions urgently through allowing him to employ around one hundred further staff," said Mr Hawkins.

"Communication centre staffing levels have increased by ten per cent over the last three years, however the Review says that 'staff numbers are not the only answer'.

"A lack of training and staff capability, particularly at command and control level is blamed for poor performance, bad morale and staff turn-over. I am assured these matters will be addressed as a priority. Issues with available units not responding to calls, rural coverage and public awareness also need to be looked at.

"Overall, the performance of New Zealand Police over the last few years has been exceptional. There are fewer crimes and more resolutions than at any time in the last twenty years, while our road tolls are down to levels last seen in the 1960s.

"This report has shown that there's still room for improvement and this Government is making the resources available for Police to achieve that improvement and restore the confidence of all New Zealanders in the 111 service."

ENDS

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