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Modernising Police Governance And Human Resources

The Police Minister and Commissioner of Police today announced changes designed to modernise Police governance and accountability arrangements, and to improve the way that Police manage their human resources.

The changes are contained in the Police Amendment Bill (No 2), which George Hawkins tabled in Parliament today.

"Two distinct areas are addressed - the role of the Police Commissioner, and human resources arrangements. The Commissioner and I have worked closely on both sets of changes" said Mr Hawkins.

Mr Hawkins said that neither set of changes detracts from the operational independence of the Police.

"The Commissioner is responsible for law enforcement and he also has a role similar to that of a Chief Executive. We are working to modernise the second aspect of the Commissioner's job, to bring the role into line with the rest of the state sector. But the Commissioner's role as New Zealand's most senior law enforcer is not affected - it is absolutely essential that the Police retain operational independence."

"I have also worked closely with the Commissioner and with unions representing police on the human resources changes, which are designed to create a more flexible and modern employment environment, in line with the rest of the state sector" said Mr Hawkins.

"I look forward to hearing more points of view on both aspects of the Bill once it has been referred to Select Committee" said Mr Hawkins.

POLICE AMENDMENT BILL (NO 2)

SUMMARY OF KEY CHANGES

- The Police Amendment Bill (No 2) amends the Police Act 1958 and the Police Regulations 1992.

- The Bill works to bring key aspects of the New Zealand Police into line with the rest of the state sector, while recognising and preserving the operational independence that sets Police apart from the rest of the state sector.

- The Bill seeks to:

- Strengthen Police governance and accountability arrangements

- Improve Police effectiveness in managing its human resources.

Strengthening Governance and Accountability

Aim: To bring the Commissioner's role into line with that of other Chief Executives as far as possible (while retaining operational independence) and to make the relationship between the Police and the Government more transparent.

- The Commissioner has two key roles - as a "Law Enforcer" and as a "Chief Executive". The first role requires operational independence from the Government. But in the second role the Commissioner should be accountable for his or her performance, in the same way as other Chief Executives. This Bill makes the State Services Commissioner responsible for measuring the Police Commissioner's performance in the "Chief Executive" role.

- The Bill clarifies what sort of decisions the Commissioner is entitled to make independently of the Minister, and what issues the Minister is entitled to direct the Commissioner on. This will provide a useful point of reference when issues arise which are not clearly operational or political.

Human Resources

Aim: To modernise and simplify the police employment environment to ensure a high standard of policing and an efficient means of dealing with members who are not performing adequately or have demonstrated misconduct.

- Strengthens power of the Commissioner to remove a sworn officer if the Commissioner believes that the officer is not suitable to discharge their duties due to their competence, integrity, performance or conduct. This will be useful in cases like the recent Colin McLean case, where the Commissioner was obliged to follow lengthy procedures to remove an officer who had clearly demonstrated that he was no longer suitable to discharge his duties.

- Formalises and simplifies procedures for dealing with the performance of sworn staff.

- Modernises disciplinary procedures, including the introduction of a code of conduct for sworn staff.

- Clarifies ability to transfer staff around the country to meet policing demands - more simple and flexible procedures.

- Changes the wage arbitration system to require an arbitrator to take account of the Police budget in making a final award.


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