29 October 2004
Staff Shortages To Blame For Asher Case
New Zealand First law and order spokesperson Ron Mark says serious staff shortages in Police call centres are placing the public in jeopardy.
“Call centre staff are there to act as the interface between the public and police, but there is so much pressure being placed on the staff at these centres, due to a lack of numbers, that assessing the seriousness of 111 calls has come into question.
“Staffing shortages means the 111 system is failing, and it has taken a crisis like the Asher case to provoke action from the Minister.
“Instead of blaming his staff for call system failures, the Police Commissioner should stop and look at the fundamental issue – staff numbers.
“Communications staff have been undermanned and under duress for a long time, yet their attempts to draw this to the attention of those at National Headquarters has fallen on deaf ears.
“The Commissioner is batting for an inept Minister, with no regard for his staff. Changing guidelines or caller priority criteria, without substantially increasing staff numbers, is not going to improve the situation.
“The job of dispatchers is further complicated by the lack of units they can call on while at the same time knowing that traffic units are ‘ring fenced’ and unavailable. Is it any wonder that communications staff become disillusioned and are unable to carry out their duties in the manner the public would like?
“The Commissioner’s comments that staff have become ‘desensitised’ to the needs of the public are pretty shabby, when in reality it is he who has become desensitised to the needs of his own people,” concluded Mr Mark.