Police Assistance Line (PAL)
Director Chris Beatson
The Police Assistance Line is a 24hour call centre available to police and the community for the reporting of nonurgent crime and incidents. PAL operates statewide throughout NSW all day, every day, all year.
PAL’s main contribution is to take non-urgent calls from the public to free up police in the field. Currently, PAL frees up the equivalent of 420 police annually.
PAL provides the public with a choice on how they wish to report crimes and saves police time and resources. Police will always attend when requested.
Although there are call centres at Tuggerah and Lithgow, the public can call a single phone number 131444 for the cost of a local call from anywhere in NSW. PAL operates as a single virtual call centre.
PAL’s concept on its large scale is a world first in policing with no other organisation doing it the way we do. PAL has attracted international interest with visits from Scotland Yard, Kent Constabulary, Hong Kong and New Zealand police. On the home front, the Australian Federal Police and State police organisations have also visited our site.
How Does it Work?
On PAL’s advice, Telstra has pointed its telephone exchanges in the Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong areas to Tuggerah and the remaining exchanges to Lithgow. At each of the PAL sites, there is telephone exchange and computer telephony integration (CTI) equipment.
Let’s look at an example. If somebody calls PAL from Temora, they will go to Lithgow. If somebody is available to take the call it is taken at Lithgow. If, however, nobody is available at Lithgow, the CTI equipment looks for somebody at Tuggerah. If nobody is available at either site, the caller is given the opportunity to leave a voice mail message or wait in the queue. While people wait in the queue, they hear regular voice messages and music.
PAL is heavily dependent on technology. Information taken by Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) is transmitted by the Service’s state-wide data network to a secure site.
How is PAL Staffed?
PAL is staffed by a team of civilian CSRs, police supervisors, trainers, administration staff and technicians.
PAL averages 2000 calls each day comprising:
- malicious damage
- break, enter & steal
- stolen vehicles/vessels
- lost property
- minor traffic collisions
- general information.
The following criteria must be met before a call is taken:
- the crime is not in progress
- the victim/s are not traumatised
- low probability of the crime being solved
- the victim agrees to the report being taken over the telephone.
Call information is immediately available to police state-wide. The incidents are examined by local police to identify trends and determine if any follow up action is necessary. Where an immediate response is needed, officers will be despatched. The 000 number is always available for crimes in progress or other urgent situations.
After a crime has been reported over the telephone, customers are provided with a reference number.
PAL has won both State and National Australian Telecommunications Associations awards for the best new call centre.