Triple-0 callers waiting more than seven minutes

 

PANICKED Queenslanders making emergency triple-zero calls were forced to wait more than seven minutes to speak to police in a major fail by the Palaszczuk Government.

The Courier-Mail can reveal serious questions are being asked about triple-zero waiting times after a leaked letter to Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll exposed union concerns that "wait times in excess of seven minutes" were posing "a real risk" to the public.

But the Queensland Police Service have dismissed Together Union secretary Alex Scott's claims that staffing numbers haven't kept up with a "significant increase" in calls over the past five years.

Commissioner of the Queensland Police Service Katarina Carroll (centre) with Police Minister Mark Ryan (right) in Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Commissioner of the Queensland Police Service Katarina Carroll (centre) with Police Minister Mark Ryan (right) in Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Instead, police say a secret "telephony system fault" related to equipment in Gladstone in "late 2019" was the reason for the January 16 letter.

"The seven-minute call time referenced was not staffing based," a spokesman said.

"It originated from a telephony system fault and was quickly remedied."

But police and Police Minister Mark Ryan have refused to say when it happened, how long it impacted calls and how long it took to fix.

Mr Scott confirmed he sent the letter before ignoring 10 calls, texts and emails requesting further explanation.

In the letter, in which he requested a full review of staffing levels, he wrote: "Together delegates have reported triple-zero call wait times in excess of seven minutes."

"Members hold concern that these wait times pose a real risk to staff wellbeing, community and officer safety.

"These concerns have been raised at the Police Communications Group Consultative Committee, however, delegates are not satisfied that their concerns have been taken seriously."

Together ASU Branch Secretary Alex Scott. Picture: Sarah Marshall
Together ASU Branch Secretary Alex Scott. Picture: Sarah Marshall

In a statement, Mr Ryan said "triple-zero call centres are adequately staffed", but Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has called for a full explanation of wait times.

"For emergency calls, every second counts - it can be the difference between life and death," she said.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said "official police figures" showed 99.42 per cent of calls were answered in less than one minute.

But he's refused to answer how long it's taking police to accept Telstra's connections from its triple-zero operators, claiming he doesn't have that information any more and it can only be released by Telstra or the Federal Government.

"In relation to information provided by Telstra to police, Telstra stopped providing those reports last year," he said.

However, Telstra has confirmed it can provide raw call data to agencies, and analysis or performance statistics could only be provided by that agency, not Telstra.

Have you been made to wait on a triple-0 call? Contact our reporter to tell your story at jessica.marszalek@news.com.au



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