English announces Police package

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.

26 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  February 3, 2017

    It might be a ” significant boost” but recruiting the extra bobbies is being done over four years. Still good to see … hope they can get out & about in communities … just connect with ordinary people …

  2. This is the contradictory position we’ve come to in our society: If we want to reduce crime we must increase law enforcement.

    What’s good about this?
    Well, it can’t exactly be labelled “social welfare spending” I guess …

    Community Development Officers from their own communities could “get out and about in communities” and “just connect with ordinary people” … So could whanau, hapu iwi kaitohutohu pakihi : business advisors …

    They could connect people and groups in positive relationship building communication, social enterprise development and innovative, creative, grass roots endeavours …

    But ordinary National voter-type people really like ‘Crime & Punishment’ don’t they …?

    • PDB

       /  February 3, 2017

      Well apparently so do Labour and NZL First supporters as both parties are promising even more police then that promised by National.

      Social changes take generations, in the short term police, police support staff and prison numbers will rise as a line is drawn in the sand over what actions will be tolerated by society and law enforcement do a better job of catching criminals – it is whether these numbers drop over time that will dictate if the policies of today have been successful.

    • Gezza

       /  February 3, 2017

      Aw, no, I don’t think they like crime PZ. I like some of those ideas though. Finding ways to increase education & professional & business skills among disadvantaged groups has my full support. Bureaucracies tend not to have the people with expertise in those areas.

      • Bill English himself said at Ratana that help must now come from within communities working with their own people …

        Front up on that one Bill!
        Invest in your own words …

        Increasing police numbers is just a vote buying exercise PDB … You could just as easily forecast limits to what ‘the people’ will permit society and law enforcement to do to them …

        Your way will result in a permanently high and ever increasing prison population fed by poverty and inequality … just what the Social Investment doctor ordered …

        • “According to official documents, $1.62m has been spent getting the bonds to this stage.” (RNZ)

          A lot of bureaucrats, experts and consultants high salaries I warrant …

          • 1125 more police staff will in itself make a dent on the unemployment figures I guess …? Never mind the “other people’s money” factor? More pressure to issue tickets and instant fines maybe?

            I wonder how many will be ‘ready qualified’ immigrants?

            England and South Africa seem to be the prefered immigration sources for police … Interesting given the ‘Maori’ crime problem …

            • Gezza

               /  February 3, 2017

              I can see the grounds for concern there. Can you link me to some reports of the problems people are having with the attitudes or behaviour of SA & UK recruits?

            • PDB

               /  February 3, 2017

              Clutching at straws there PZ – blame foreign sourced cops for Maori crime? Your attitude however does give us a clue as to why Maori are over-represented in the crime statistics….

              Considering about 4% of the unemployed are unemployable I doubt many police recruits would be found there.

            • Jeez PDB … by your own calculation that leaves 96% of unemployed within which police recruits might be found …?

        • Gezza

           /  February 3, 2017

          “Your way [PDB] will result in a permanently high and ever increasing prison population fed by poverty and inequality … just what the Social Investment doctor ordered …”

          Aw, no, truly, I hope you’re both being too negative. More police about & about in communities, better connections, more anti-social behaviour nipped in the bud before it becomes criminal, more referrals to Youth Court, more involvement of people like Possum in that process (she’s posted that she’s done that sort of work in her past), restorative justice sessions – everybody knows prisons aren’t the answer but crime prevention & finding ways to reduce recividivism are.

          Some of the Wiri proposals in that area surprised me – Iwi were expressing interest in getting involved – so I’m keeping an open mind on that, although I don’t like the privatised prison system idea, but as a possible incubator for new ideas & financial accountability for results, & with close oversight, it will be an interesting project to study, & I don’t see how it could be worse than the current system.

          • PDB

             /  February 3, 2017

            Logic dictates that if you do something about the high rates of burglary for example then in the short-term more people will end up being caught, prosecuted and possibly jailed for their crimes. A continued police presence should see burglary cases reduce relatively quickly for reasons you state HOWEVER issues such as domestic violence, child abuse etc are not just a case of having more police on the ground – it is a much longer fight, much of which must come from within the communities themselves in terms of changing attitudes and not tolerating or excusing anti-social behaviours, hence English’s statement about how a govt can only do so much on such issues.

            • Gezza

               /  February 3, 2017

              Yes.

            • Yes PDB, let’s hope he puts his money where his mouth is …

              Otherwise what we’ll have is inequitable distribution of ‘welfare’ to go with all the other inequality and iniquity …

              Incidently, countering a ‘Brown’ racial crime problem with ‘White’ recruits from countries where racism was and is rife is absolutely NOT blaming Maori crime on foreign sourced cops … Your assertion is patently absurd.

              No-one in their right mind could think that IMHO …
              Only someone in their Right mind …

            • Logic dictates that if nothing is done about the reason why people burgle and why the rate is increasing, all it will do is increase and we’re stuck with enforcement, judicial and imprisonment ‘treatment of symptoms’, not solutions.

            • PDB

               /  February 3, 2017

              NZ history shows us that Maori have always been over-represented in our crime statistics, so your ‘opinion’ that it is caused by more recent ‘white’ police recruits is flawed. Maori & pacific islanders are also over-represented in Aussie crime statistics so not just a problem in NZ.

              Your attitude that English must front up even more money to fix social problems shows your left-wing bent, considering the govt is already investing a considerable amount already. I’d suggest communities can start by not excusing crime, not tolerating gangs, promoting good role models (rather than American rap artists for instance) etc which all can be done for free.

            • PDB

               /  February 3, 2017

              Burglary is popular because it is simple to do with little outlay and has a lower chance of being caught. As English said the police increase is just a component of the govt strategy, your continued focus on that one element is misleading.

            • Oh FFS PDB … “caused” …!?

              Show me the causal link between immigrant police and Maori crime in what I’ve said? I defy you to …

              My exact words are “interesting given the Maori crime problem” …

              That word is “interesting” PDB …

            • PDB

               /  February 3, 2017

              Hiding behind insinuations doesn’t help your argument PZ…..

            • @ PDB – “Your attitude that English must front up even more money to fix social problems shows your left-wing bent, considering the govt is already investing a considerable amount already.”

              What exactly is a $503 million ‘Safer Communities’ package if it ISN’T fronting up with more money?

              As Zedd points out below, freeing-up $400 million expended on the largely victimless crime of marijuana might be a start …?

              Alan’s “productivity and efficiency” in reducing the paper war might help?

              How about investing half of that $900 million into Community & Personal Development and Social Enterprise instead of policing …?

  3. Brown

     /  February 3, 2017

    My police aquaintances say that the quality of recruits was worrying years ago – many had been rejected but in desperation to build up numbers were acceptable a year later. If that is correct finding the numbers of quality applicants may be difficult.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 3, 2017

      Yes, not sure that the Mongolian hordes approach to policing is a winning strategy. Simplifying the mountainous paper work burden might be better.

  4. Lets hope the police force is tackling racism including institutionalised racism as well as they appear to be tackling sexism … thanks largely to Louis Nicholas …

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11456318

    Interesting comment from MarkF on Kiwiblog in 2012, “If you think about it English, Americans, Canadians and South Africans are invisible, as migrants, until they open their mouths.”

    The same might apply to them ‘opening’, demonstrating or releasing their acculturated prejudices? How many Americans and Canadians are going to have come in contact with Indian First Nations people? How many recent South African immigrants are NOT going to claim that post-Apartheid South Africa under majority rule is ‘racist’ against Whites? How many English recruits are of West Indian, Indian, Pakistani or African ethnic origin?

  5. If the NZ Police actually focused their resources on fighting CRIME & not wasting it chasing ‘pot smokers’ (or people growing it for own use).. they may find the current Police number is quite adequate.

    I saw a report that said aprox. $400million/year is spent on cannabis/drug prohibition.. whilst other countries are NOW stepping back from it !

    “Wake Up Mr. English.. its 2017”

    • Well yes, of course, Alan & Zedd, “efficiency and productivity” …

      One might be forgiven for anticipating that the very Social Investment approach Bill English is announcing police staff increases on the back of would caution and guide him in the direction of “efficiency and productivity” …

      And it would, by any neoliberal THink TAnK standards you can imagine, it would!

      But this doesn’t incite fear and it doesn’t buy votes …