VICTORIA'S much hyped new police line has had a bumpy start, but emergency services say they are pleased with initial figures of uptake released this week.
The new line - 131 444 - which officially launched on July 1 last year, has seen less than a 50 per cent take up in major categories in Ballarat as residents try to remember the new number.
The number has been designed so that calls for non-emergency events such as property damage, lost property, theft, non-urgent neighbourhood disputes, noise complaints and party-safe registrations are not taking up valuable resources on the emergency triple-0 phone number.
According to Crime Statistics Agency figures from July 1 to September 30, 2019, the new line received 30 per cent of calls for property damage, 46 per cent of calls for burglary/break and enter and 37 per cent of theft reports within Ballarat.
This translates to figures of 94 calls to the police line and 220 calls to triple-0 for property damage, 166 calls for burglary compared to 192 to triple-0 and 533 calls for theft, compared to 896 to the emergency line.
Inspector Steve Towers described the figures as an encouraging start.
"Victoria Police is pleased with the uptake of the Police Assistance Line and online reporting in the Ballarat area," he said.
READ MORE: Police assistance line launched
"These new services have reduced the amount of time local police spend taking reports on non-urgent crimes, giving them more time to be out in the community doing proactive work.
"Across Victoria, we have seen the community continue to utilise these convenient services with over 500,000 calls received at the Police Assistance Line.
In 2018, the state government announced it had committed $210 million for the new secondary hotline for contacting police which would bring to 200 jobs for Ballarat.
Employees were initially promised a minimum 15 hours per week work, but due to a lack of calls, many had their hours cut or received no hours at all.
A state government spokesperson said: "We expect the amount of shifts available for employees at the contact centre to continue to increase as the PAL becomes more established across the state".
If you have a question for police, or wish to report a crime or event that doesn't require our immediate attendance, call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or visit police.vic.gov.au/palolr
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