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Police staffing in crisis

Hon. Tony Ryall MP
National Law and Order spokesman
5 August 2005

Police staffing in crisis

National’s Law and Order spokesman, Tony Ryall, is warning against lowering police recruitment standards in response to a widespread staffing crisis.

"Rather than lower the standards, the country should lower the boom on the Government,” Mr Ryall says.

More confirmation last night that the police are finding it harder to recruit new officers came with news of a staffing crisis meeting called today.

At the meeting, called by Assistant Commissioner Lyn Provost, recruiting staff reported that the number of recruits in the latest intake is down by 50%, and that officers are leaving faster than they can be replaced. There were suggestions that police might consider lowering their standards to fill recruiting demands.

This meeting follows comments by a senior officer from Palmerston North that the staffing crisis was not just affecting Auckland. He reported that Auckland, Taranaki, Manawatu, Hawke’s Bay and Wanganui are the worst affected areas, Mr Ryall says.

"Labour has turned the police into revenue gatherers instead of crime fighters. The police call centres are a mess, with more than 180,000 calls unanswered in the past year. It's taking longer and longer for police to respond to priority call-outs in many parts of the country. No wonder the place is a mess.

"There is a serious lack of leadership in the police. George Hawkins and Labour have undermined public confidence in our police service to such a level that crime victims are no longer reporting many so-called minor crimes. Even Helen Clark is prepared to dump on officers trying to help her meet her travel whims.

"The answer to restoring public confidence and recruiting interest in the police is a change of government.

“National cautions against lowering recruiting standards to compensate for government failure. Lessons can be learned from the staffing crisis in 2001/02. Police need strong leadership, less revenue gathering, and renewed public confidence,” Mr Ryall says.

(Note to editors: National revealed this crisis in a statement last Friday.)

ENDS

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