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Community police for Otago: Labour's pledge

David Parker - MP for Otago

Thursday 18 August 2005

Four community police for Otago: Labour's pledge

The Otago electorate will receive at least four community police as a result of Labour's pledge this week to double the number of community police on New Zealand streets, says Otago MP David Parker.

Prime Minister Helen Clark's announcement this week of Labour's fifth key election pledge is to double the number of community police on the streets by recruiting an extra 250 over the next two years from 2006/07 to 2007/08.

"This translates into four new community police for the Otago electorate. Likely areas are: Oamaru, Alexandra, Queenstown and Cromwell," Mr Parker said.

"Community police are visible, accessible and responsive. By elevating their strategic importance and doubling their numbers, Labour will strengthen and further develop police capacity to work with local communities to prevent crime, and build strong and confident communities," Mr Parker said.

The community policing announcement is the fifth pledge by Labour. It has been preceded by commitments to make big improvements to the rates rebates scheme; to abolish interest on student loans; to create an extra 5,000 Modern Apprenticeship places, which would take the total number to 14,000 in 2008; and to set dates for the lodgement and settlement of Treaty claims.

"Since 1999, the Labour-led government has invested heavily in police, creating over 1400 new police positions and providing a record level of resources," said Mr Parker.

"The result has been the crime rate falling to its lowest level in over 20 years, and the incidence of serious crime like burglaries reducing.

"Fear of crime, however, is also damaging our communities. The public want a visible police presence on the streets, to provide confidence and reassurance that their local community is a safe place for their family to live in. They also want more day-to-day engagement with local police who can take the time to listen to local concerns and ideas.

"Under Labour, community police will be able to work actively in their local communities, not just to tackle crime, but also to create safer communities where crime is less likely to occur," he said.

The community police will undertake activities such as:

. Regular walk-throughs of shopping precincts;

. Dropping into local businesses to talk to owners about their concerns;

. Assisting community groups or business associations to hold meetings to discuss approaches to local problems such as graffiti;

. Providing crime prevention advice;

. Designing and co-ordinating responses to local crime problems;

. Building relationships in local communities, and identifying at-risk individuals and families to refer them to support agencies as appropriate;

. School education visits;

. Liaising with local government and community boards

"Like all police, community police will be available to respond to emergency calls for assistance, and that is what the public would expect," said Mr Parker.

"This pledge will mean that in each police district there will be a visible and tangible increase in the community police presence within the next two years. Police commanders will determine which communities will receive the new police first.

"The recruitment of the 250 extra staff for community policing will be over and above the additional 265 new police positions already announced in Budget 2005 which will see staff numbers top 10,000 for the first time ever."

The pledge will be met through an additional $12.5 million being added to Police baseline funding in 2006/07, rising to $25 million in 2007/08 and subsequent years.

ENDS

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