Fears Police Link Flaws Hiding Crime Spree Iceberg: Katter

Apr 5, 2023

Katter’s Australian Party Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter has called on Police Minister Mark Ryan to rule out on what he believes could be the “systemic, chronic and possibly deliberate” under-reporting of crime across Queensland.

Mr Katter last week issued, in a Question on Notice, a request for Minister Ryan to provide up-to-date data in relation to the Police Link service’s ability to adequately respond to the public’s calls for non-urgent assistance on crime.

“Will the Minister advise for 2018 to 2022 (reported separately by year) how many (a) calls were (i) received by Police Link and (ii) abandoned or not ever responded to, (b) how many online contacts were made to Police Link, (c) how many FTE officers were assigned to specifically take Police Link calls and (d) of those FTE officers at (c), how many were sworn officers as opposed to civilian support staff?” the Question submitted to Parliament read.

A response will take up to six weeks, unless Minister Ryan agrees to issue the information early.

Mr Katter said he feared Police Link was failing to deliver a service in line with community expectations and floated a funding injection or a decentralisation of call centres to the regions as possible solutions.

“Most Queenslanders know and appreciate that police time is precious and that communications and sworn officers need to be free to respond to emergencies as much as possible, so there should be no blanket hesitation in accessing Police Link,” he said.

 “However, based on my own interaction with Police Link, and the feedback I am increasingly receiving from the public, the system has some serious problems.”

 Mr Katter said long wait times, unanswered/dropped calls, the failure of police to follow-up reports and callers being pushed to use an online service were among the issues reported to him.

 “The Queensland Police Service, and the Minister for Police, don’t publicly release Police Link figures as a matter of course anymore, but the best estimates are that more than a million calls and more than a million online contacts are made to the service each year,” he said.

 In 2021, this resulted in 72,708 actual phone crime reports and 183,337 online reports. Out of this total number of reports, 256 045, only 31,346 charges were laid.

 “Out of the more than a million calls made a year, there are estimates around fifth of them are going unanswered or the public are abandoning them due to long wait times – hopefully the Minister can disprove this when he releases the figures.”

 Mr Katter said Police Link call wait times in excess of 30 minutes were being reported to him, with frustrated callers often giving up and abandoning their efforts to report a crime or engage police.

 “The obvious impact of this occurring with any degree of frequency is the under-reporting of crime, which should seriously concern the Minister for Police,” he said.

 “This would be akin to the crime data we have just being the tip of the iceberg – who knows what is underneath.

 “We need the Palaszczuk Labor Government to fund the Queensland Police Service properly, fund Police Link properly and give the community the safety and the service they need and deserve.”