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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Risk seen in police radio use

Risk seen in police radio use

TASMANIAN police officers believe problems with their radio network are putting both police and the public at risk, a new survey shows.

The Police Association of Tasmania survey found 95 per cent of police officers who responded had experienced failed communications while on operational duties.

More than 70 per cent of officers surveyed had experienced failed communications at least once a week since Tasmania Police reverted to an analogue radio network in February 2004.

More than half of the respondents said failed communications had caused a serious or moderate risk to their safety.

Only 16 per cent of the 400-plus officers surveyed said failed communications had never put them at risk.

Failed communications had also caused a serious or moderate risk to public safety, according to half of the respondents. And almost 30 per cent said failed communications caused a serious risk or created a dangerous situation at least once a month.

Police Association president Randolph Wierenga said the current radio network jeopardised the safety of police officers and the public.

"Frontline police demand and expect a safe and effective communications system to ensure the safety of themselves and the public," Mr Wierenga said.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Darren Hine said Tasmania Police was working with the Tasmanian Government radio network project team to address radio communication issues.

"We want the same outcome as the Police Association of Tasmania and that is the best available radio system," Mr Hine said.

Tasmania Police had been using a digital system prior to reverting to analogue.

Ericsson Australia Pty Ltd lodged a multi-million-dollar lawsuit in 2004 against Tasmania Police and the Hydro-Electric Corporation in a dispute over the digital radio network.

The telco alleged Hydro and Tasmania Police used much more of the digital network than was originally anticipated.

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