'Unprecedented demand' results in *555 calls unconnected

Unconnected calls to *555 on Saturday night were because of ''unprecedented demand'', police say.

A Dunedin man who saw a car repeatedly cross the centre line between Middlemarch and Hyde on Saturday night, pulled over to contact police via the *555 service.

He was on hold for 4min 27sec before the call was terminated, and a following call was again cut off after being on hold for 3min 36sec.

Last night, a Police National Headquarters spokesman confirmed that ''Saturday evening was an exceptionally busy period, with unprecedented demand to our communications centres''.

''While we endeavour to answer every call in a timely way, priority will always be given to 111 calls.''

That meant during periods of high demand, such as on Saturday night, *555 calls were sometimes not answered as quickly, but were given higher priority than non-emergency calls.

Police are urging motorists concerned at erratic or dangerous driving behaviour to report urgent matters to 111, and general complaints and concerns to *555, rather than take matters into their own hands.

Southern District acting road policing manager, Senior Sergeant Steve Larking, of Dunedin, said police were best placed to deal with poor driving behaviour, following the latest incident involving a Dunedin motorist taking keys from an overseas driver.

''While there may, in extreme circumstances, be valid grounds for a motorist to stop and remove the keys from another driver where there is a serious or immediate danger, this is the exception rather than the rule, and is certainly not recommended.

''We also remind the motoring public that it is not acceptable for them to put themselves, or indeed other road users, at greater risk to confront someone else they consider is driving poorly.''

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