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Time for Labour to come clean on frontline police

Chester Borrows MP National Party Police Spokesman

9 June 2008

Time for Labour to come clean on frontline police

National Party Police spokesman Chester Borrows says the Government must come clean on the number of extra police being put on to the front line.

He is responding to an article in the latest issue of Police News, the magazine of the Police Association, which says that 'only 52% of the first two tranches of the Government's promised 1,000 extra police have gone to the front line.'

"Labour promised, as part of its confidence and supply agreement with NZ First, to hire an extra 1,000 sworn officers and 250 non-sworn officers by the middle of next year.

"And Police Minister Annette King is quoted by Police News as saying 1,000 more police staff means '1,000 more sworn frontline staff ... [including] 250 community constables who will be working as frontline officers.'

"But, according to police figures collated by the Police Association, just 207 (58%) of the first tranche's 353 new sworn positions, and just 139 (46%) of the second tranche's 301 new sworn positions were 'frontline' positions.

"This has forced Police Association President Greg O'Connor to repeat his claim that 'frontline' numbers are desperately short, saying 'the simple reality is that much of the new resource has been used to create new positions and plug gaps elsewhere', and that while a lot of these positions are important 'let's not kid ourselves that the frontline shortages have been fixed. They haven't been.'

"I have raised this issue with Annette King previously, but she denies it.

"It's most concerning, and comes when violent crime is on the increase and we need all the police on the front line we can get.

"It also comes at a time when general duties staff are declining as a proportion of sworn officers - from 41% to 39%.

"It's time Annette King told the public and the police the real story on frontline police numbers - that they're not as good as they would have us believe.

"As Greg O'Connor says: 'It is no coincidence that violence and disorder offences are continuing to rise while frontline response staff numbers remain tight.'"


ENDS

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