Police and prisoner numbers

The new Government aims to increase police numbers and decrease prisoner numbers.

From the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement:

Strive towards adding 1800 new Police officers over three years and commit to a serious focus on combating organised crime and drugs.

Earlier this year the previous government had already committed to increasing police numbers:  Ten per cent more police to reduce crime

A $503 million package which includes increasing police staff and resources across the country will reduce crime and make our communities safer.

Police Minister Paula Bennett says the Safer Communities package announced today by the Prime Minister will provide an additional 1125 police staff over the next four years, including 880 sworn police officers.

I presume the new Government’s plans are on top of this. They also want to decrease prisoner numbers, which could be difficult if more police catch more criminals.

NZ Herald:  Govt wants to axe new prison and lower prison muster

Labour’s target is 30 per cent drop in prisoner numbers in 15 years.

The Labour-led Government wants to put the brakes on the burgeoning prison muster so it can axe plans for a new 1500-bed prison – expected to cost close to $1 billion.

The increase in remand prisoners has put pressure on the prison population in recent years and Corrections is now looming as a political battleground, with Opposition leader Bill English warning that it will test the Government.

The number of prisoners has risen since new laws in 2013 that made it tougher to grant bail, roughly doubling the number of remand prisoners to about 3000 today.

The prison muster yesterday was 10,457, well above justice sector forecasts and expected to keep rising.

Even if more police will eventually reduce crime the prisoner numbers are a problem now.

Last year the previous Government unveiled plans to add 1800 prison beds at a cost of $1 billion, with more double bunking in Ngawha Prison, a new 245-bed block in Mt Eden Prison, and the new 1500-bed prison.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said it was his “strong preference” not to build a new prison, which he called a symbol of the “abject failure of our criminal justice system”.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis echoed this sentiment, adding that construction work had yet to begin.

“I’m looking at all options to reduce the prison muster, so that it doesn’t end up being built. Officials are being sent away to work out what will have an immediate impact.

“We’ll rule out the stuff that won’t make New Zealand safer.”

Labour wants to lower the prison population by 30 per cent in 15 years, a target Little described as “ambitious”.

Little said he had no plans to revisit the bail laws, switching the focus to crime prevention, prisoner rehabilitation, and rolling out more therapeutic courts, which can divert offenders away from jail and into treatment if they plead guilty.

While all laudable goals none of that is likely to be easy or quick. They have to somehow deal with growing prisoner numbers now while trying to eventually reduce crime.



  1. artcroft

     /  November 6, 2017

    Spoke to a work colleague who has recently left the police force. He related a story of his first day as a cop. He made an arrest, filed the paperwork, followed it up and the guy went to prison. That was easy he thought.

    Turns out it was the last person he sent to the pen for quite some time. He realised later that it is really hard to go to prison in NZ. You really have to do something bad to end up there.

    So good luck to Labour on this score. If your in jail in NZ you pretty much deserve to be.

  2. Blazer

     /  November 6, 2017

    be interesting to see how more Police reduces crime.I could understand if they were walking the beat.And of course it depends on the crime.Possession of small amounts of drugs and associated misdemeanours often seem a waste of Police resources.Traffic is the main area of law enforcement for alot of officers as it is.The % of incarceration in NZ is way up there on an international basis and scrutiny of exactly what people are in gaol for would be… interesting.White collar crime is of course on the increase and starved of… resources.

    • Corky

       /  November 6, 2017

      Last time I looked the majority of prisoners were in prison for drug related offences. Why?
      Because the government doesn’t believe adults should have the right to take drugs unless they are state approved. So it’s OK to indulge in lattes,cigarettes and booze…but not cocaine and heroin.

      Take drug offences off the statute, and we can start closing some prisons.

      • duperez

         /  November 6, 2017

        A lot of police time, court time and prison costs would be saved if we take methamphetamine out of the law books. People are in courts up and down the country daily for meth related things. Get rid of the offences and courts and prisons would be free for the serious stuff.

        • Corky

           /  November 6, 2017

          And make booze illegal. Of course taking drugs off the ” offences list” ( Libertarian) and trying to police it with our present ( socialist) system wouldn’t work.

          We could have a melded system of ‘registered drug users” if we don’t want to go down the Libertarian way.

          • Pickled Possum

             /  November 6, 2017

            Morning Corky don’t we have a registered drug users file? Those who have been DNA swabbed and sentenced in court. I don’t condone class A use being legal might be a bad as alcohol.

            • Corky

               /  November 6, 2017

              ”Morning Corky don’t we have a registered drug users file? ”


              I don’t condone class A use being legal might be a bad as alcohol.

              Of course you don’t.

              Kia Ora.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  November 6, 2017

    Labour => more law => more crime ?!

    • Gezza

       /  November 6, 2017

      Just needs more road cones.

      • George

         /  November 6, 2017

        But there will have to be discussions.
        What colour, what shape, ethnological considerations, Taniwha tax paid.
        And the Global warming effect road cones have

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  November 6, 2017

        Yes, passed about a million of them on my trip to Auck and back yesterday. Only two were squashed. Seem to have no natural enemies.

  4. After the referendum on cannabis.. they may find that about 20% of current arrests, ‘magically disappear’ ?
    btw; i hear in other countries that have already changed their cannabis laws; not only have their prison populations decreased, but so has their overall crime rates (drug-related, org. crime gangs) & cops can then focus on solving real CRIME.. eg the 85% of robberies that currently go unresolved in NZ etc. which are often also ‘drug related’ to get the funds to pay black-market over-inflated prices ! :/

  1. Police and prisoner numbers — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition