10 May 2019

Police launch non-urgent number 105

From Checkpoint, 5:40 pm on 10 May 2019

If it's non-urgent, and non-life threatening, and the crims have been and gone, the police want you to call a new number: 105.

More than 60 years after launching 111, the police it's a milestone that will make it easier for people to contact them.

To help people remember the new digits, the police are spending about $2 million on an education campaign.

"We are the first to admit, if it's not an emergency we are not an easy organisation to get a hold of," police commissioner Mike Bush said.

Nearly one million calls went to the 111 number every year, but of those, less than half were actually urgent, and just a fifth were "priority one". 

In part, that was because people had not always known where to take non-urgent matters, such as when they came home to find their television had been stolen. 

Extra staff had been added as non-urgent demand was expected to rise now that people had a specific place to go any hour of the day, Mr Bush said. 

Last year's annual report showed only 79 percent of 111 calls were being answered within 10 seconds. 

Police Minister Stuart Nash said: "About 600,000 calls are going to 111 which could go elsewhere, so this is hopefully going to divert a significant chunk of those calls to 105 and free up the 111 system for true emergencies.

But for now, there were no targets on how quickly calls to 105 should be answered. 

"We are aiming to pick them up as quickly as possible. We'll set some standards when we understand the volume," Mr Bush said.

When it came to deciding which number to call - a simple check was needed, Mr Nash said. 

"If it's happening, 111. If it's happened, 105. It's not a bad rule to remember," he said. 

There's also a website, where people can make reports for things like stolen bikes, petrol drive offs, or lost wallets or phones.

Jennifer Feldwick triages calls as they come into the Kāpiti call centre. 

"You get everything and everyone through that line," she said. 

The new line would help deal with those calls that were not urgent, she said, giving this example: 

"A lady, she was pretty frantic, she had ongoing civil disputes with her neighbours. They had popped soggy newspapers into her letterbox and she had decided that needed to be a triple one call," she said. 

Police are expecting it might take some time for the message to sink in, so don't worry if you get it wrong at first. 

"If you ring 105 and it is an emergency, that'll be triaged as well and you'll be sent straight into the emergency queue," Mr Bush said.