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Under-Funded, Under-Staffed, Under-Protected

Under-Funded, Under-Staffed, Under-Protected

Reports that police officers are now choosing to pay for their own body armour - rather than work unprotected - should come as no surprise to anyone used to Government apathy, ACT New Zealand Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that front-line police officers have been calling for `lightweight stab and ballistic resistant body armour' since 2000," Dr Newman said.

"Yet it is now 2004 - and police are still waiting. Violent crime has risen to a point where police are attacked almost every week. In this climate, it is no wonder police would rather fork out than work unprotected - but why should they?

"I am sure that Police Minister George Hawkins would never dream of sending traffic police to work without the reflective vests that, no doubt, ensure their safety on the roads at night. Why, then, should front-line police fighting crime be deprived of the same protection?

"For too long, this Government has picked favourites. Just because front-line officers do not gather the revenue that traffic police do, it does not make them less worthy of protective equipment.

"It is absolutely disgraceful that the Government is failing to protect individual police officers, who are being forced to protect themselves out of their own pockets. Not only is this a policing issue, but also one of Occupational Safety and Health - whom I will be contacting to determine the Government's level of responsibility in this most serious situation.

"I demand that Mr Hawkins address his failure immediately, it is time he showed the police some leadership - that he understands their plight and is not abandoning them," Dr Newman said.

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