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Police Understaffing A Major Issue

Police understaffing a major issue, says North Shore City Mayor
January 14, 2005

North Shore Mayor George Wood is calling for the Minister of Police George Hawkins to recognise that Police in the Auckland region are understaffed and lack the necessary modern equipment to do their job efficiently. "Frontline Police are doing an exceptional job but they need more support. We need to give them the extra resources and equipment they need to lift their game," he says.

Figures just released by the Government on Police response times to 111 calls in urban areas show that the North Shore/Waitakere Police District has last year's worst target response rate with only 58 per cent of priority one jobs reached within 10 minutes. The results come in the wake of a major review of how Police handle emergency calls. The latest figures show that North Shore-Waitakere Police took 48 minutes to get to top-priority calls compared with 24 minutes in November 2003.

"We have one of the lowest policing population ratios in the western world. The Police and the Government seem to have forgotten that the Auckland region is growing too. We have 50 new residents a day being added to our population.

"I am concerned that we are not getting the additional resources to cater for this continuing expansion. It isn't going to slow down with the Government planning to bring in up to 38,000 immigrants each year for the foreseeable future - and most of those settling in Auckland," says Mr Wood.

"It is all very well for Mr Hawkins to claim the poor response times could relate to administrative problems. That is far from the truth and Mr Hawkins knows it. Police in Auckland are understaffed and haven't seen the innovative modern electronic equipment and technology that their overseas counterparts take for granted."

Mr Wood, the Police commander of the North Shore area before he became mayor in 1998, says his city needs a large increase in extra staff. He also says that the Police service should be given the mobile computer terminals in their cars that they were promised as part of the abandoned INCIS Project.

"If they had this type of equipment today their work would be a lot easier but it still wouldn't make up for the clear shortage of sworn Police officers on our streets," he says.

The North Shore mayor is pleased that the Police are doing a formal review of their communications centres but wonders if the timeframe set down is practical, with a report due to be completed by March.

Mr Wood, who made a submission to the Review Panel, says the review needs to be robust and deliver firm recommendations to improve the situation.

"It is important the public have faith in this review process and that it restores their confidence in the system," he says.

"I haven't heard the Police Minister or Commissioner make a commitment that they will provide the necessary human resources and equipment to immediately enact any recommendations made by the Review Panel. That's what will make the difference."


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