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King celebrates 500 mark in police campaign

King celebrates 500 mark in police recruitment campaign

Police Minister Annette King today congratulated New Zealand Police on reaching the halfway point in recruiting 1000 extra sworn police staff.

"The Police have conducted a skilful and innovative campaign in competition with many other services also seeking to attract new staff," said Ms King. "What's more, the Police have carried out this recruitment campaign in the face of many adverse circumstances, not least of which has been the National Party's continual belittling of the campaign itself and of the standard of police recruits."

Ms King said both the Labour-led Government and its Confidence and Supply Agreement partner, New Zealand First, knew the recruitment campaign would be tough when the partners signed their agreement to add 1000 extra sworn staff and 250 non-sworn staff over three years.

"We knew the campaign would be difficult because of issues like the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct and because so many other service organisations were in the labour market at the same time," she said.

"What we didn't take into account, however, was the continual denigration of the campaign, and of the standard of recruits, by the National Party. Clearly National was embarrassed by the fact that in 1999 it planned to reduce police numbers by 500, and it didn't want our programme to succeed. Well, the public can feel very pleased that National has failed dismally in its campaign to destabilise the police.

"Since we have become the Government at the end of 1999 we have actually added 1154 sworn staff. That's an increase of 16 percent. By mid-2009 we will have added another 500, bringing the increase to 23 percent. That's a huge step toward creating safer communities for all New Zealanders. This Government and New Zealand First have delivered funding and commitment."

Ms King says she is particularly pleased that the recruitment campaign has remained on track despite a number of contentious recruitment issues in the past 18 months.

"The low point was certainly a Dominion Post headline in June referring to the 'thick blue line', but I was also extremely disappointed when National firstly tried to exploit such allegations, and then when it churlishly criticised an independent report that found that the standard of police graduates had not declined."

Ms King said New Zealand Police had done a great job in reaching the halfway point on schedule. "National might like to reflect that despite all the potentially damaging criticism it has directed at police, morale in the organisation is remarkably high, with an attrition rate of less than four percent. The public is winning out, despite the cynicism that underlies National's attacks."

ENDS

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