ABC: Former NSW cop Ryan Jeffcoat says new QLD police emergency reporting system endangers lives

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-12/qld-police-service-reporting-system-under-fire/100056920

A former police officer has criticised the new Queensland Police Service (QPS) reporting system after officers were not sent with priority to attend a crash that badly injured his wife.

Key points:

  • A former police officer says the new Queensland Police reporting system is flawed
  • He is concerned the system does not prioritise jobs correctly after no police attended the crash that injured his wife
  • The QPS says it has received numerous complaints relating to triple-0 calls and its new SOLVE framework

Ryan Jeffcoat said that under the new system, police were no longer notified of all jobs in their area, and were instead given priority jobs from a mainly civilian communications team — a system he said did not work and would lead to lives being lost.

The system has already come under fire, and will be examined as part of a coronial investigation and police review into an incident in which a triple-0 call from a domestic violence victim was listed as a “non-urgent, code three job”.

The woman died later that night in an apparent DV incident.

The QPS said that, so far this year, it had received numerous complaints relating to triple-0 calls and its new “SOLVE framework” communication system.

People injured, driver fled, still no police

Last month, Ryan Jeffcoat was driving with his family on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, when a truck driver veered into his lane and crashed into his car, before fleeing the scene.

Mr Jeffcoat, who is a former NSW Police officer, said he and witnesses called triple-0 at least six times, but no officers attended the scene.

“I’m injured, my wife’s injured, she was taken to hospital with serious abdominal injuries, my children absolutely shaken in the car, the driver has fled,” Mr Jeffcoat said.

“My car was blocking the road, we had injuries, it was a serious motor vehicle accident and police didn’t respond.

“Not one phone call.”

Mr Jeffcoat said he managed to locate and confront the driver of the truck, who lived nearby, before calling triple-0 again to provide details of his address, name and registration details.

“Still no police presence … so I went down to Caloundra Police Station and I spoke to a senior constable who was fantastic, couldn’t believe what had happened and had no knowledge of that matter,” he said.

“He’s following up the investigation now and I received a phone call from the station apologising for the response, or lack of response, from police.”

Mr Jeffcoat said that while officers had indicated a lack of staff was part of a broader statewide problem, he believed the way the job was prioritised under the new reporting system was incorrect.

‘Response required’

According to the QPS, the crash was listed as a non-urgent, code three matter, which meant that “priority one and two matters were to be met in the first instance”, however a police response was required at the scene.

“When a member is advised of a traffic crash, and there is injury to a person, an officer should be tasked to attend the traffic crash,” a QPS spokesperon said.

“Officers and shift supervisors are to use discretion when determining whether police attending or investigating a crash is in the public interest.”

Mr Jeffcoat said it was the communication system, not local police, that had failed him and his family.

“The police are doing the best they can but the way that the senior management and the commissioner of police has oversighted the rollout of this new communication system, it’s a debacle,” he said.

“And it’s going to cost the lives of people, it already has, and it took me being involved in a serious accident, where my wife and children were impacted, to say enough’s enough.

“The people of our community deserve to be able to call on the police when we need it, and we deserve those police to be able to respond when asked to.”

New system rolled out statewide

According to the QPS, in February the new “demand management framework” called SOLVE was rolled out statewide to deal with triple-0 and other calls for police assistance.

Police codes:

  • Code 1: Very urgent matters when danger to human life is imminent
  • Code 2: Urgent matters involving injury or present threat of injury to people or property
  • Code 3: Matters which do not fit into Code 1 or 2, but require a police response in a timely manner
  • Code 4:  Jobs that do not require a direct response or the incident is not currently occurring
  • Code 5: Jobs that do not require a police response

Source: QPS spokesperson

A spokesperson said the system aimed to prioritise policing resources “in a more effective manner” and the police communications group which serviced and managed the tripe-0 network in Queensland, used the SOLVE network.

Since January, the service has received 44 complaints from members of the public, 20 relating to triple-0 calls and three relating to the new framework, according to the QPS.

Mr Jeffcoat said police officers on the ground, with local knowledge and experience, should be making decisions about the priority of incidents.

“Those people that are working at the triple-0 or the police assistance line aren’t necessarily police officers … they’re trained administration staff, but they don’t have the necessary skills and experience to determine the priority of that job that comes through,” he said.

“If they determine that the jobs are low priority, that job doesn’t even get disseminated to the individual police on the ground.

“So the police officers with the experience on the street don’t have the opportunity to look at that job and go, ‘Oh actually, I can read a bit more into that, we need to get there quicker’, because they’re not getting the allocation of the job, period.

“It’s instead been shifted into an administrative area of the Queensland Police and been case-allocated to someone for follow-up, which could take sometimes up to a week.”

Workers experienced, system reviewed

According to the QPS, the new system, which takes triple-0 calls specifically, has pre-programmed priority codes — but they can be overridden.

A QPS spokesperson said the communication group was staffed by both police and civilian members.

“Staff member (civilian) officers are primarily the triple-0 communications operators (call takers),” the spokesperson said.

“The communications operators complete a nine-week training course prior to undertaking a mentor period with experienced operators.

“The training the operators receive includes all aspects of call taking, allocation of activity and priority codes and also dispatching duties.

“Upon operators taking and allocating priority codes to a call for service, the incident is then overviewed by a sworn police communications coordinator who will … upgrade the priority if required.”

According to QPS, these coordinators are all experienced police officers.

“The entire process is overviewed by quality assurance officers within the communications group that conducts reviews of the process on a regular basis,” it said.

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