Friday, October 30, 2009

1-0-1-1-1 is not a binary code SAPS

Opposition MPs have blasted the SA Police Service for its inability to promptly and properly respond to most 10111 emergency calls.

“Many South Africans have become accustomed to police arriving at a crime scene many hours after the crime was reported,” Independent Democrats MP Haniff Hoosen told members in the National Assembly.

“When you read this report, you realise just why we are not able to reduce the high levels of crime in our country...”

MPs were considering a report by the public accounts committee (Scopa) on an audit, conducted earlier this year, of service delivery at police stations and 10111 call centres.

The report, tabled on Thursday, lists numerous shortcomings and areas of operational weakness in the SAPS, including in its sector policing, vehicle management, training and handling emergency calls, among others.

On the latter, it notes there is no fully functional 10111 call centre in Mpumalanga, and that the minimum set service level of 90 percent “was not adhered to at six of the nine call centres audited”.

Congress of the People MP Leonard Ramatlakane said that when it came to the SAPS, there were too many reports of serious deficiencies and non-adherence to standards.

“The reports of the Auditor General and Scopa have an overload of these. It is unacceptable and utterly disappointing that the very people who are the last barrier between us and chaos are not rendering the expected and demanded quality of service,” he said.

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Pat Lebenya-Ntanzi suggested ordinary citizens had lost faith in the police.

“If you ask ordinary men and women on the street whether they believe the SA Police is adequately equipped and skilled to protect them, or whether they believe phoning the 10111 call centre will get them the help they need, you will be greeted with a resounding ’No!’”

The report did not offer any assurance that the police force was up to the task of fighting crime successfully.

“We urge government to look at this report and to recognise the urgent need to fix the many problems that are paralysing and rendering the SAPS ineffective,” she said.

Democratic Alliance MP Diane Kohler-Barnard said the audit had shown that 10111 call centres had not come close to the stipulated service levels expected of them.

“The reality is that not one single shift in the 10111 sector investigated came even close to reaching the minimum stipulated service level of 90%. Not even close.

“If anyone in this House can explain how a service level of 39 percent during the busiest time of the day — from 2pm until 10pm — is acceptable, I’d like to hear the explanation.”

She said calls to 10111 centres often went unanswered.

“Mostly, no-one bothers to answer the phone, and if they do, frankly one wishes they hadn’t bothered. The calls are frequently answered with just a grunt, and an utter debacle ensues, while the disaster they’re so desperate to report plays out in front of the citizen’s eyes.

“[A total of] 70% of calls made to 10111 centres are abandoned by frantic citizens, who actually believed there was a number they could call if they had an emergency," Kohler-Barnard said.

“Will it take a 2010 visitor... to be hung up on when they make an emergency call to wake the members of the current governing party out of their stupor in this regard,” she asked.

Hat tip: Black Coffee

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