Victoria’s defunct Police Assistance Line is to be reinstated following a trial. Victoria Police provided this service but it was discontinued in the 1990s.
All other Australian states and territories have had this service since the 1980s. Victoria was the only state to scrap it.
It may be reinstated following a 5-month trial. The number to call will not be released to the public but in every other state, the number is 131 444, as it once was in Victoria.
Victoria Police may choose another telephone number however given 131 444 is used for interstate police assistance lines and once used in Victoria it seems highly likely that this will be the telephone number. If so this number will not work in Victoria until 1 July.
“Victoria Police won’t be making the Police Assistance Line number available as the trial will include education and discretion of police about when a call can be directed to the service. From 1 July, the phone number will be made public and the community will be encouraged to report non-urgent crime and events.”
Members of the public who call Triple Zero and local police stations with an enquiry may be transferred to the Police Assistance Line at the discretion of the officer taking the call. This would only happen if the enquiry meets certain criteria and police will inform the caller about the new service.
The trial will begin in Hume, Brimbank and Ballarat areas, with more areas planned to be introduced to the service over the next five months.
The purpose of the trial is to test and refine the Police Assistance Line to ensure a high-quality service can be provided before all Victorians are encouraged to use it from 1 July 2019.
A public-facing campaign will run from July onwards where the community will be educated on the service and how they can better engage with Victoria Police.
The Police Assistance Line will take reports or give advice on non-urgent crimes and events, where direct police attendance is not time critical, including:
- Property damage
- Lost property
- Located property
- Noise complaints
- Neighbourhood disputes
- Other general non-urgent inquiries
These calls will be answered and triaged by a contact centre in Ballarat. Throughout the trial, civilian employees will staff the contact centre under the supervision of police officers.
From July, the Police Assistance Line will be a dedicated, public phone number for people to report or get advice on non-urgent crimes and events any time of the day.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Grainger highlighted the benefits of the project for the community.
“These channels will greatly improve Victoria Police’s ability to respond to non-urgent calls from members of the community,” AC Grainger said.
“The trial of the Police Assistance Line will allow us to refine the service to ensure we can provide the community with even more avenues to access our services from 1 July.
“These services will improve the way in which we prioritize and respond to both urgent and non-urgent matters.
“We know that almost 30 per cent of calls to Triple Zero are for non-urgent matters and the Police Assistance Line is expected to divert some of these calls.
“This will reduce the amount of time police spend on administration, allowing them to spend more time focused on improving community safety.”
The Police Assistance Line will be closely complemented by an Online Reporting platform which was also funded in the Government’s Community Safety Statement.
The community will be able to use the services of the 24 hour Police Assistance Line and Online Reporting platform from 1 July.