In his ‘state of the nation’ speech Prime Minister Bill English announced a major boost to Police numbers.
This is National’s first pitch at voters in election year, and shows an advantage for the party leading Government – they can do things as opposed to just promising them subject to agreement from possible coalition partners.
Today I announced a new $503 million Safer Communities package to reduce crime and prevent reoffending. Over the next four years the package will fund an additional 1125 police staff, including 880 sworn police officers.
The extra investment will make police more visible and more responsive but, equally importantly, it will enable police to put more time and effort into working alongside other agencies to address the underlying drivers of dysfunction. That’s because we are learning more about what makes a difference to people’s lives.
…we are investing more in police. According to the 2016 Global Peace Index, New Zealand is the fourth-safest country in the world, but demand for traditional police services is growing, and complex and serious crime is absorbing more police time.
The extra investment will enable police to devote more resources to addressing the causes of social problems, not just respond to the symptoms.
In addition to increasing police numbers, the package provides:
- A new national 24/7 phone number for non-emergencies.
- More staff for up to 20 regional and rural police stations so that 95 per cent of the population lives within 25 kilometres of a 24/7 police presence.
- More specialist investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime.
- Additional resources to deal with burglaries, youth offending and other community crimes; and
- More officers to target organised crime.
All 12 police districts will receive extra sworn officers. Police will determine how many will go where, based on the police’s operational requirements.
The package also comes with a range of challenging performance targets for police. Those include higher attendance at home burglaries, more assets seized from organised crime, fewer deaths from family violence and a reduction in reoffending by Maori.
The targets won’t be easy to meet – but we don’t shy away from hard issues.
It’s not surprising to see an increase in police numbers but this is a significant boost.
A phone number for non-emergency contact is a simple but long overdue addition. The 111 system is inundated with non-emergency calls in part because it is difficult to know how to contact the police otherwise.