Police turn to number crunching

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 September, 1996, 12:00am

Regulators have said they would consider allocating a four-digit telephone number to police stations to help reduce the workload of officers at the 999 control centre.

The police believe a shorter code would encourage people seeking non-emergency services to call their district police stations instead of the 999 hotline, which is often busy.

A spokesman for the Office of the Telecommunications Authority said yesterday: 'If there is an operational need for the police to use a four-digit short code, the office will certainly consider allocating such a number.' The police also plan to install an $8 million system next year which will immediately display the number from which callers to the 999 hotline are phoning. The move would improve efficiency and discourage people from abusing the emergency service.

The 'calling number display' service is expected to be approved this year, but the telecommunications spokesman said the police would not be able to prevent callers from using another service which would stop their number being revealed.

A police survey conducted in March this year found that only 16 per cent of 24,000 calls received in three days actually needed emergency police attention.

Another 52 per cent were 'silent' calls, including misdials, nuisance and abandoned calls.

Of the rest, 17 per cent were repetition calls, where the same case was reported by several callers; 14 per cent were calls that did not require police response; and one per cent were non-emergency inquiry calls.