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Labour wants police force second to none

2000 web siteLabour police spokesperson George Hawkins said today that the Labour government will put in place measures to halt the decline in police numbers in the provinces.

Releasing Labour's police policy, Mr Hawkins said that while Labour believed that Auckland was short-staffed of front-line police, stripping the provinces of staff and shifting then to Auckland is no way to address the problem.

"Many towns throughout New Zealand - places like Wairoa and Hastings - have seen their police numbers ebb away. Labour believes sworn police numbers should be based on a fair assessment of not just the population size in a certain region but should also take into account local factors such as crime rate, geography and population composition.

"Labour will also address the lack of experience in police ranks by allowing police with desired attributes and abilities, who left the force through the PERF scheme or early retirement, to apply for specifically designated police positions, so that they can bring their experience back.

"Another Labour initiative will be the establishment of Rural Volunteer Auxiliaries. RVAs will assist police in remote rural communities and sole-charge stations. They will not have police powers, but will be able to act as an extra pair of eyes on patrol, conduct radio communications, and be empowered to assist a sworn officer.

"The intention is to do all we can to prevent another tragedy like the recent murder of Constable Murray Stretch in Mangakino. The RVA scheme will build on local initiatives which have sprung up in some rural areas."

Mr Hawkins said that there were some major issues facing the police which must be addressed by the incoming government:
· The cost cutting Police Review threatens police effectiveness in many parts of the country.
· The legacy of Incis mismanagement has contributed to equipment shortages, compromising officer safety.

"Unlike National, Labour does not have an agenda to enforce ideologically-driven changes on the police. We will work through issues like staffing and technology in consultation with front-line officers to ensure that the New Zealand Police is second to none. Labour's police policy, in conjunction with our previously released Plan to Cut Crime, will make New Zealand a safer and nicer place to live" Mr Hawkins said.

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