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NZ First Pledges To Double Police Numbers

Media Release
Friday 30 May 2003

NZ First Pledges To Double Police Numbers

New Zealand First has announced a policy of doubling the number of police officers and a system of monitoring police performance by local communities.

The announcement was made by Rt Hon Winston Peters and law and order spokesperson Ron Mark in Auckland today.

They pointed out that New Zealand was being hit by 50 offences an hour but only about 40 percent of these reported crimes were cleared by police who were struggling to stem the rising tide of serious offending.

Offending trends from the latest Annual Police Report to Parliament showed an increase in the following types of crime:

Homicides Kidnappings Robberies Assaults Theft
Intimidation Sex attacks Drugs Disorder

“The thin blue line is so thin that it is buckling under the weight of criminal offending. In some parts of the country criminal offending is a serious career option for some individuals because police simply do not have the resources to stop it,” said Mr Peters.

New Zealand has a police force of about 7,000 sworn officers. New Zealand First proposes to double that number over a five year period, starting in 2005 after the next election.

The extra estimated cost ($700 million) could easily be met from projected Budget surpluses. It is also believed there would be considerable savings to the community through the flow on of a drastically reduced number of crimes.

Mr Peters said that recruiting prospects would be enhanced if suitable applicants knew that they were joining an essential service that was not always struggling to meet its obligations to the community through no fault of its own.

“Frontline police make up the last non-stop, 24 hour social agency in New Zealand. They have to deal with everything that is thrown their way. Too many good police officers are turning to other occupations because of stress and the unrealistic expectations of the Government.”

Along with the increased number of police officers, New Zealand First has also proposed a new system of police reporting monthly on their performance to local communities.

“There are 12 police districts in New Zealand. Each district commander will be obliged to provide monthly crime figures to the mayors of city and district councils and to discuss crime trends and clearance rates with these community leaders.

“Operational matters will always be left with the Police Commissioner who reports to the Minister of Police, but we believe that a public accountability tier at a local level is essential to ensure that community needs are met by the extra resources.

”Performance will be measured by meeting community expectation – not by the number of traffic tickets issued in any working day.

New Zealand First is committed to ensuring that policing levels and improved resolution of crime will be a cornerstone of negotiations for forming the next coalition government.

“It is essential to release the broad outline of the policy now so that there is ample time for public discussion and for other political parties to come on board.

“Regrettably, Labour and National have shown a resigned air of defeat over this issue. Instead of seizing the initiative and taking the attack to the lawless element amongst us, they have secretly surrendered, while pretending to be concerned about the crime wave.

“While they will not openly admit to it, these politicians actually believe the war against crime is already lost and all they offer New Zealanders is, at best, a managed retreat in the face of the criminal onslaught.”

Mr Peters said that New Zealand First was committed to reversing the perverse situation where offending did not usually result in punishment - it paid for the offender.

“The time for talking is over. We are declaring war on crime and we are sure that every law abiding New Zealander will help support the battle.”


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