Victoria Police has changed the way you can contact them in order to streamline their response.
The new changes apply to people wanting to report a crime to police in East Gippsland, too. For those wanting police assistance urgently, the number remains unchanged. Call 000 for immediate help. However, if you are calling police to report a theft, property damage or lost property or other general matters, the new number to call is the Police Assistance Line or PAL on 131 444.
“It’s for when you need us, but not the sirens,” Acting Inspector Nicole Cantillon said.
The idea is to reduce the number of people phoning 000 with non-urgent calls.
When you phone 131 444, the call is answered at the Police Assistance Line centre in Ballarat, which is staffed by 200 trained telephone operators, including 30 police officers.
They will record the details of your call and pass the information on to the relevant police station for a follow-up.
Acting Inspector Cantillon says a sergeant based at that police station will check the database and then give the job to a police member “who will have an umbrella of knowledge and experience to investigate”
Sergeant Prad Pai, who’s based at Bairnsdale police station, says 30 per cent of calls made to 000 each year are of a non-urgent nature.
“A lot of locals have also gotten into the habit of calling their police station when they should be dialing 000, but it actually takes longer to receive a police response because we then have to phone 000 and relay their message,” sgt Pai said.
He says other Australian states, such as Queensland and South Australia, have been using a Police Assistance Line for some years to deal with non-urgent calls.
The public also has the option of reporting their concerns online by going to the Victoria Police website or attending their local police station.
However, if you do call the Bairnsdale police station or any other police station in East Gippsland you will be greeted by an automated service which prompts you to select the number to either be transferred to the Police Assistance Line or to your local police members.
Acting Inspector Cantillon says those who phone a police station should listen carefully to the prompts.
Remember if it’s urgent, call 000 if you need police immediately, or otherwise dial PAL on 131 444.
PICTURED: The changes to contacting police are expected to free officers up from answering phones. Pictured in the Bairnsdale watchhouse are Acting Inspector Nicole Cantillon and Sergeant Prad Pai.