13 Feb 2024

111 calls: Police Minister makes no promise on changing system before next election

2:32 pm on 13 February 2024
National MP Mark Mitchell

Police Minister Mark Mitchell says he is working through advice he has received on the matter. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Police Minister Mark Mitchell has received advice on updating the 111 emergency call system but will not commit to making changes before the next election.

On Tuesday, RNZ revealed police documents which showed the previous Labour government was warned a year ago the system was so old, slow and fragmented that it was causing deaths and injuries.

The Labour government was working on a replacement, which emergency services described as "urgent" and "pressing", but dropped the project last August.

Police on Tuesday morning told RNZ the system continued to work "despite the current challenges" and they had made improvements to it.

Mitchell said he was working through advice he had received on the matter.

"It's important that 111 system is actually modernised, that it has adapted and it allows people to get the message to the right people at the right time, so that we get the right people at the right time to them.

"It is a big job, make no mistake about that. But we are working through that, we're coming into a bidding process now with the Budget ... and this is one of the things that's been raised with me as incoming minister, it's extremely serious and I'm working through it with the police."

Mitchell, however, would not commit to implementing the changes before the next election.

"I'm committing to making sure that we've got a proper communication system for both the public to use and also our frontline first responders."

Labour police spokesperson and former police minister Ginny Andersen said her party stopped working on a replacement emergency call system last year because of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Andersen said she made a pitch for funding as part of last year's Budget but was not successful.

"There were some big calls to be made post-Cyclone Gabrielle and another big project, which was the next generation critical communications, which required a big build a billion dollars to provide a secure digital network for all emergency services was funded."

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