45 minutes on hold for nothing? Labor’s Police Assistance Line fails community

Today in a Parliamentary hearing into COVID-19, a number of ongoing community safety issues resulting from Labor’s botched rollout of the Police Assistance Line (PAL) have been exposed.

Established by the Andrews Labor Government in July 2019, the PAL encourages Victorians to report breaches of COVID-19 restrictions and social isolation requirements.

Despite having been operational since July 2019 and having capacity for surge periods, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton confirmed Victorians have faced average wait times of 17 to 20 minutes, with reports of up to 45 minute delays to lodge a report.

With the public having made over 30,000 reports of COVID-19 breaches via PAL, neither the Chief Commissioner or Police Minister could answer how many of these reports had resulted in a spot check being conducted or a fine being issued.

It has also been highlighted that members of the public making a report via PAL have not been provided a reference number or receive follow up communication from PAL or Victoria Police – meaning community members are often left in the dark as to what actions were taken following their report.

These issues have followed reports of 150 staff at the call centre being laid off in August 2019 – with the Government unable to confirm if any of these former workers had been reengaged to help meet increased demand during COVID-19.

Overwhelmingly, Victorians want to play their role in keeping the community safe during COVID-19, yet Labor’s botched management of PAL has let down those who are simply trying to do the right thing.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Police and Community Safety, David Southwick:

“Daniel Andrews’ botched Police Assistance Line has left the community feeling confused, frustrated and letdown.

“Labor’s failure to reengage former staff during this period has worsened the police hotline performance and is a clear blow to regional jobs.

“This understaffed and poorly managed hotline is yet another example of Labor failing to provide Victoria Police with the resources they need to do their job and keep the community safe.”

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