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Police well resourced to focus on crime: Hawkins

Police well resourced to focus on crime, says Minister

Police have the resources necessary to focus on crime prevention and resolution throughout New Zealand, Police Minister George Hawkins says.

Mr Hawkins said police crime statistics for the 2002 calendar year released today showing a 3.2 per cent rise in overall recorded crime was disappointing, but had to be kept in perspective.

The increase identified in the figures was by and large identified when the financial year results were released in August 2002, Mr Hawkins said.

“While any rise in crime is unwelcome, the fact is crime rates per head of population have been trending down for some years.

“In 1996 offending rates were 1274 per 10,000 head of population, compared with last year when, pleasingly, the rate had fallen to 1112.

“While the country’s population had risen by 4.3 per cent in the last six years, recorded crime rates in the same period dropped 7.8 per cent, “he said.

“Those are the figures that provide the balance and need to be taken into account.”

Mr Hawkins said national resolution rates had also kept pace, with police solving 5458 more crimes in 2002 despite a rise in offences.

He was confident the police were well resourced to do their job.

“This government has been determined to support the police and put its money where its mouth is,” Mr Hawkins said. “

“Financially, police have never been better off with an annual budget of just under $1billion.”

Examples of initiatives to support police over the past three years included:
· a $1m recruitment campaign
· initiation of a special report in policing in Auckland
· more police sent to the three Auckland districts
· recruitment of around 77 experienced officers from the United Kingdom
· introduction of a modern cadet scheme
· the lowest road toll in 40 years
· modernisation of the police vehicle fleet
· $60 million committed over five years to rebuild and refurbish police stations
· new stations opened since 2000 in Hampden, St Andrews, Waikoauiti, Kapiti and Kaiapoi
· others stations in Manurewa, Matawai, Howick, Invercargill, Great Barrier Island, Whangamata, Richmond, Morrinsville, Glen Innes and Oamaru opening shortly
· refurbishment, extension or upgrade of over 40 stations since 2000
· static annual police staff attrition rate of around 4.5 per cent.

Mr Hawkins said commitment to a capital works programme had been necessary because police infrastructure and morale had been gutted under the previous National-led government.

“Between 1996 and 1999, for instance, only around $725,000 a year was spent on police property in New Zealand and they intended to drastically cut police numbers,” he said.

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