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Newman Goes Over Minister's Head

Newman Goes Over Minister's Head

ACT New Zealand Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today said she will write to the Prime Minister - in the hope that Helen Clark will see the problems facing police, which Police Minister George Hawkins seems to have missed.

"The situation, where lack of staff prevents Auckland police investigating car crash inquiries, is absolutely unacceptable - and is simply one of a raft of pressures hindering police in their duties," Dr Newman said.

"A core role of Government is to maintain law and order. The police's letter to a hit-and-run crash victim, saying his complaint could not be investigated due to `the current workload experienced by staff', clearly shows that the Government is not fulfilling this role.

"Police are understaffed and under-resourced. While the population in Auckland continues to rapidly grow, police numbers have not been adjusted accordingly. The signs that police are under increasing pressure are plain to see; they are outnumbered by gang members by more than three-to-one, are unable to take the 700 years of leave owed to them, and have admitted they are losing the war on drugs.

"All of this is occurring right under Mr Hawkins' nose. His comment, that police were doing `pretty well' with current staffing levels, shows that he is unwilling - or unable - to confront the problem.

"This is totally unacceptable. New Zealand is already one of the most under-policed countries in the developed world, requiring another 1,700 officers to match the level of Australia. Crime is on the rise, and all the signs show that we are on the verge of crisis.

"If Mr Hawkins cannot see the problem, perhaps the Prime Minister can. I undertake to write a letter to Ms Clark, in the hope that she is able to see the dangers and will take action to resolve these issues before it is too late," Dr Newman said.

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