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Peters does double take on police numbers

Peters does double take on police numbers

A call to double police numbers came from a party led by the man who in 1998 commissioned a review which recommended cutting both police numbers and funding, Police Minister George Hawkins says.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in 1998 commissioned the Martin Review of Police which recommended slashing both police numbers and funding.

“In that light Winston and Ron Mark’s call today to double police numbers, which would mean recruiting and paying for around 14,706 sworn officers over five years is a bizarre turnaround, Mr Hawkins said.

It was obvious New Zealand First had neither thought the idea through, or done the maths, Mr Hawkins said.

The statement also showed how out of touch with modern policing methods they were when they called for greater involvement between police and communities.

“ ‘Safer Communities Together’ is the stated police vision, but they don’t seem to have grasped this,” Mr Hawkins said.

Police themselves had initiated close relationships with local communities and were everywhere formally and informally an integral part of community life.

New Zealand First’s claim the country was experiencing soaring crime levels was also incorrect.

“Only this week at the Law and Order Select Committee, Police Commissioner Rob Robinson pointed out that while New Zealand’s population has risen, crime continued to trend down,” Mr Hawkins said.

“Over the last six years overall recorded crime in New Zealand has dropped by 7.8 per cent against a population increase of 4.3 per cent. Over the same period the Police rate for resolving crime has improved by 5 per cent. “

A recent Justice Ministry survey showing static victimisation rates between 1996 and 2001 further disproved that crime was out of control.

Police have never been better funded and police numbers have never been higher.

“Police numbers have risen during this Government’s time in office from 6939 sworn officers and 1734 non-sworn staff in November 1999 to 7353 sworn and 2145 non-sworn staff as at the end of April this year,” Mr Hawkins said.

“At the end of the day numbers are only one factor in keeping crime figures low. What counts is smart policing and New Zealand police do that very well,” Mr Hawkins said.

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