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Mayor Seeking More Police On The Streets

Mayor Seeking More Police On The Streets

More police officers on the beat and more money for the stretched police budget in the Auckland region are being sought by Manukau mayor Sir Barry Curtis.

In a joint approach Sir Barry and the Auckland region’s other mayors have requested that the government provide more resources in the region to help tackle public concerns about crime and safety.

Sir Barry says, “One of Manukau City Council’s priorities is a commitment to making our streets safer. The police clearly have a major role to play in achieving this goal but they are understaffed and underfunded.

He says, “There is widespread concern about crime, violence and anti-social behaviour. Many people do not feel safe in their homes and in public places. We could alleviate much of that fear if we had the number of police officers needed and the amount of resources the region deserves on a population basis.

The Police Commissioner has submitted a report to the Police Minister proposing new initiatives for addressing Auckland’s policing needs. “The plan is a sound one and I support it,” Sir Barry says, “but it cannot be achieved without a bigger budget. The government needs to put more money into policing.

“There are two basic issues for Auckland. First, we need more officers here. The shortage of staff at certain police stations means current staff are overworked, stressed and often burnt-out. That impacts on morale as well as their efficiency.

“The community is also calling for a more visible police presence. They want to see more officers and patrol cars on the streets.

“I support the work and strategy of the Police Commissioner overall but I am convinced that police numbers are not what they should be, given the size of the region and the social problems we face. The clearance rate - the percentage of crimes solved - is much lower in Auckland than in other regions, as are waiting times for 111 calls to be answered.

“This is part of the reason Aucklanders feel such concern about crime levels.

“The second issue is underfunding. The government simply needs to provide more funding to the police. However I also believe the system must be more flexible than it is. We would like to see regions bulk-funded so that local police chiefs have the flexibility to spend money in the best possible way.

“Clearly, the needs of a large metropolis like Auckland are different from smaller places like Timaru and a more flexible system would allow the movement of resources into areas where they’re needed, as opposed to rigidly following the national guidelines about how to spend that money.

“We believe that councils and other organisations that work close to the ground in the Auckland region can help the police meet their targets better. We would welcome a closer connection with the police to achieve that goal and we are seeking a joint action plan in this regard.”

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