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King Encouraged By "Me Too" National Police Policy

King Encouraged By "Me Too" National Police Policy

Police Minister Annette King has welcomed the National Party's "Me too" policing policy which imitates the Labour-led Government's policy in almost every respect.

"The difference is that we are already doing what they say they will do, including the new Police Act, which will be in Parliament before Christmas and enacted well before the next election."

The Act replaces existing 50-year-old legislation, and for most of those 50 years, National was actually in power in New Zealand.

"They did nothing about modernising the legislation, but that said, I welcome the fact that National has finally woken up to the realisation that community safety is important to New Zealanders. Their policy is a ringing endorsement of the direction that we are taking, and the Government sees that as a real compliment."

Ms King says she remains somewhat cynical about National's belated support for the 1000 extra sworn police staff and 250 non-sworn by mid-2009.

"I am cynical because in the dying moments of the last National government, they were actually planning to chop police numbers by 500, and throughout the past 18 months they have done nothing but criticise and try to undermine our recruitment campaign for the extra staff. Still, if they now say they back us, then that's good," she says.

"Since we have become the Government 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."

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Ms King says she is also somewhat cynical about National's promise to provide NZ Police with modern crime-fighting tools.

"This, of course, is exactly what we have been doing, with the Taser trial, which is currently being properly evaluated; the roll-out of the stab-resistant vests; the SNEN trial, and continuing upgrading of the police car fleet.

"Equipment was run down in the 90s and that, along with National's plans to cut police numbers, was one of the reasons that police morale was so low at that time. Now the attrition rate is at an incredibly low 3.8 percent and morale has never been higher. "

Ms King says she is very disappointed at the slur National Party leader John Key has cast on police work with victims. "Police are usually the first point of contact for victims and they are doing a magnificent job. Mr Key seems to believe that is not the case."

Ms King says National is deliberately trying to create a climate of fear around crime and gangs. "The reality is that in the past fiscal year, crime has actually reduced by one percent per ten thousand population. The police are also resolving more crime, particularly violent offences. Four of the twelve police districts have reported a decrease in violent offences in the past year.

"The Government is currently setting up a new Organised Crime Agency which will have a strong focus on combating the menace posed by gangs. We are actually doing something about this problem.

"I acknowledge, however, that much remains to be done to counter the evil of domestic violence in this country. The Government and the police will continue to encourage the victims of domestic violence to come forward, and I believe that we are now seeing something like the true picture emerging."

Ms Key says she noted National's rhetoric on issues such as DNA, bail and protection orders.

"Areas like protection orders and bail are continually being revaluated and analysed. You can't undertake serious policy work like this by shooting from the hip or the lip."


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