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Minister Must Stop Screwing Around

Minister Must Stop Screwing Around

Monday 14 Apr 2003 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today accused Police Minister George Hawkins of fuelling New Zealand's rising crime rate and drug epidemic by crippling police in their ability to fight crime.

"Reports that the number of drug overdoses, dealt with by Auckland Hospital, have tripled should be a wake up call to the Government that it is losing the war on drugs. With the Budget to be released next month, the Minister must ensure that police receive a real funding adjustment, as well as a catch-up on the funding cuts Labour implemented when it came to power, Dr Newman said.

"Police are understaffed and under-resourced. They are outnumbered by criminal gangs, and have warned they are unable to keep on top of the soaring crime problem. All the signs are plain to see, and the Minister cannot feign ignorance.

"Manpower intensive special duties, such as homicide or drug lab investigations, as well as providing security for the recent America's Cup have created a backlog. The hugely chronic numbers shortage is hampering everything police do - New Zealand's current ratio of police per head of population is lower than that of the US, Australia and the UK.

"The biggest problems police face are operational - the result of inadequate funding. They do not have enough specialist dedicated teams to cover such things as clandestine drug labs. Yet Mr Hawkins tries to claim that the Government is cracking down on crime.

"This is a soft-on-crime Government that prefers to talk tough, rather than be tough - 1.7 percent of total Government spending, down from 1.9 percent when Labour first took office, is woefully inadequate.

"A core role of Government is to ensure national and international security - a role Labour seems to have relinquished. Police need the resources to combat crime, but are hamstrung by a government that does not see law and order as a priority.

"Budget negotiations are now taking place. It is up to the Minister to ensure that police receive real funding. It is time for the Minister to act tough, not just talk about it. It is time he stopped screwing the police," Dr Newman said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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