Policing commitment welcomed

NZPA | Tue February 28th, 2017

Election year kicked off to a strong $388 million start for police.

The Government has walked the talk on its commitment to address an increase in serious crime and a stressed police force by expanding the number of sworn and non-sworn staff by 1125.

Police numbersThat 10 per cent boost is welcomed by the Association. There is healthy circumspection about where the staff will be deployed and how Police will manage a daunting recruitment drive, but “so far the positives heavily outweigh the negatives”, according to Association President Chris Cahill.

“Overall, this Safer Communities package has been well thought out in terms of taking the pressure off a number of key areas identified by the Association,” he said.

Organised crime, a surge in methamphetamine and a proliferation of illegal firearms are among the issues the Association wants these extra resources to be aimed at.

Initiatives such as the 12 mobile policing units to be allocated across the country to tackle various community policing concerns as they arise, and the 24/7 non-emergency phone line, will alleviate frustrations the public has in trying to reach police.

The Association has been assured by Police that the 880 sworn staff will arrive “fully costed” in terms of mobility, tactical training, uniforms and equipment.

“It is our job to make sure that commitment is kept,” Mr Cahill said.

The first intake of new recruits will begin training in July and be operational by November. To complete the recruitment and training of 220 extra officers a year over the next four years, as well as those needed to address natural attrition, it will be 2020 before the full complement hits the beat.

Ideally, the Association would like the extra staff immediately, but the sheer logistics of the initiative preclude that.

In some initial responses from Association members it is clear the allocation is going to be closely scrutinised. Feedback included:

• A desire that the 500 extra frontline police “should sit in i-cars, or the equivalent in rural areas, where the demand is”.

• Would the additional non-sworn staff take back the positions previously done by non-sworn, but then disestablished and given to sworn members? “Using non-sworn in these roles would free up even more officers.”

• The package should be “very much about additional Indians, not more chiefs” or “pet projects”.

• More rural policing is most welcome, as long as it is well resourced.

• Finding enough recruits in a timely manner is going to be a challenging exercise.

• The mobile policing units are a great idea – “a proactive targeting team so other groups are not stripped to deal with problems as they arise”.

• Despite the constraints of the past few years, one member said, the New Zealand public had been getting very good value for its money from the current Police staff.

 

THE NUMBERS

1125 new staff – 880 sworn, 245 non-sworn – over four years, taking total Police staff to more than 13,000 (10 per cent more officers by 2021)

500 more officers for the frontline

140 more officers for regional and rural policing (the aim is for 95 per cent of New Zealanders to be within 25km of a 24/7 police presence)

140 more investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime

80 more officers to target organised crime, gangs and methamphetamine

20 more ethnic liaison officers

12 mobile policing units

24/7 – new national non-emergency phone line; Police Eagle helicopter funded to operate fulltime

THE COST

$503m over four years – $388m for Police, $115m for wider justice sector.

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