NSW Triple-0 workers in wild ‘cocaine party’
Police are investigating an alleged cocaine-fuelled party on the Central Coast involving frontline NSW police employees from the PoliceLink Command.
Call operators, who take calls from the triple-0 emergency hotline, Crime Stoppers and the police switch board are understood to have been at the wild house party where a number of them were reportedly drinking to excess and snorting cocaine.
News Corp Australia has been told one unsworn police employee call operator went straight from the party to cover a work shift at the Tuggerah call centre. But the operator's police superiors realised the operator was still intoxicated and sent them home.
Two other unsworn police call operators were reported to be snorting cocaine and continued to work at the Policelink Command which fields - across its two call centres - an average of 25,000 calls a week for everything from life threatening emergencies to members of the public dobbing a drug dealer or providing information about crimes.
Sworn police officers have raised issues about conflicts of interest in unsworn staff not being subject to same random drug and alcohol tests as sworn police and the potential conflict of interest for operators, who take drugs, receiving calls on Crime Stoppers about potential drug dealers.
PoliceLink receives emergency calls including triple-0 (000), non-emergency calls, Crime Stoppers, the Customer Assistance Unit, the Police Switch and the NSW Police Force Community Portal (Online Reporting).
In the 2017-2018 financial year, PoliceLink which operates 24 hours a day seven days a week took more than 1.3 million calls in a year, of those 720,000 were to triple-0 (000). More than 560,000 calls were received by the Police Assistance Line and more than 69,000 calls were made to Crime Stoppers.
A NSW Police Media spokeswoman said a number of allegations have been received by the NSW Police Force in relation to a private function in Tuggerah in September.
"As a result of these allegations, an internal investigation has commenced and remains ongoing.
"Two civilian employees of the NSW Police Force have since ceased their employment," the spokeswoman said.
NSW Greens spokesman for Justice and Police, David Shoebridge, said people assume that when they call to provide police with critical information that they are speaking to actual police with full integrity measures in place.
"If people are doing the work of police they need to be subject to the same checks and balances," said Mr Shoebridge.
"Rapid and coherent responses to emergency calls are obviously critical and there needs to be measures in place to ensure no one taking the calls is impaired by drugs while at work," he said.
"This is a highly demanding job and staff need support and adequate resources to do it well, not just a punitive drug testing policy. This isn't about checking for purely social use, like whether or not someone had a joint a week ago, it's about making sure no one is actually impaired by any drugs when they are doing their job."
Policelink is part of the Operational Communication and Information Command. Policelink has a number of established centres including Tuggerah and Lithgow which operate as one virtual call centre staffed by about 400 officers including Customer Service Representatives taking the emergency calls.
Dr Matt Beard, a fellow at the Ethics Centre in Sydney said there is a "potential issue of trust, trustworthiness and integrity" however the potential conflict of interest is quite low.
Dr Beard questioned whether the disgruntled sworn police complaining about their unsworn colleagues was part of an organisational sub culture, who are resentful that despite everyone working towards the same standards and goals, the staff are not subject to the same rules.