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Nats Promise More Police

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

National has promised a modest boost to police numbers, but Labour says its plan to focus resources in south Auckland will see numbers drop in other areas.

National leader John Key today pledged to train 600 extra police by 2011, but 380 of those have already been promised and funded by the Labour-led Government, meaning an overall boost of just 220.

A central part of National's plan is a big push on crime in south Auckland, with 300 new frontline officers to be deployed there by the end of 2010.

Mr Key said violent crime had risen by 65 percent in the Counties-Manukau police district in the past nine years and "people are being killed or assaulted as they go about their daily lives".

Despite that, the area had the second lowest police-to-population ratio of any police district.

Mr Key also promised to put more police on frontline response duties, rather than in specialist squads such as the crime investigation bureau (CIB).

National's policy would cost $18.5 million a year, he said.

But Labour police spokeswoman Annette King said National's policy equated to just 75 extra staff a year and to get 300 new officers into south Auckland by the end of 2010 National would have to raid numbers from other police districts.

"National says how good its policy would be for south Auckland, but it doesn't say how bad it would be for the rest of the country."

Ms King said police were already refining their "cross-Auckland policing strategy" to ensure resources were deployed where they were needed most.

She also said deployment of resources was an operational decision usually left to the police commissioner. National wading into such matters amounted to political interference.

She also accused National of underestimating the cost of its policy -- accounting only for wages and leaving out costs such as uniforms, cars and other equipment, she said.

The Government's 2005 agreement to boost police numbers by 1000 as part of its support agreement with New Zealand First had been costed at $500 million over three years.

Ms King estimated the three-year cost of National's plan at $99.6 million rather than the $55.5 it was taking out of future budgets.

That meant the police would have to shave $40 million off their existing budget in order to meet the cost.

Mr Key said reported violent crime had risen by 47 percent in the past nine years and National believed police were stretched too thin.

He said the boost would achieve a ratio of one officer for every 500 people in New Zealand and would mean 50 more patrol cars on the streets by 2011.

Police statistics show that overall crime is dropping and police and the Government have put the big rise in violent crime mostly down to increased reporting of family violence.

NZ First MP Ron Mark said National's policy was a slowing of the growth in numbers seen in the past three years and would strip police from areas outside Auckland.

That could lead to crime increases in those areas, he said.

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