3 Feb 2017

Public looking for more front line cops from funding boost

From Morning Report, 7:08 am on 3 February 2017

Police are being warned they'd better put hundreds of extra officers into front line crime fighting if they hope to boost their image in the public's eyes.

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Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Police Minister Paula Bennett has announced a new $500 million funding boost for almost 1,000 staff, which will be rolled out over the next four years.

But some people are sceptical about where the money might end up.

Police Minister Paula Bennett.

Police Minister Paula Bennett. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

NZ First leader Winston Peters says the government's announcement is an admission that crime is rising.

Mr Peters said the government had claimed for years that crime was falling, even though 90 per cent of burglaries were going unattended.

"They were engaged in a complicated exercise of deception by saying that crime was falling.

"For example, every criminal lawyer in the provinces will tell you, they were catching people, but rather than charging them, they were warning them - so a catch and release policy, so to speak."

The government's announcement was an election bribe that was too little too late, Mr Peters said.

"He puts it over four years for a start. It puts us way behind the ratio of police per thousand, that for example Australia's got."

Prime Minister Bill English said it was not an admission of anything.

"It's simply pointing out...it's picked up a bit lately so it is the time to get on top of the serious crime problems, deal with them better."

But Labour's police spokesperson Stuart Nash questioned why it took the government so long to act.

He said in May last year, the then police minister Judith Collins signed off on a four-year strategic plan that said there would be no more police until 2020 - to only change her mind four weeks later.

"So I don't know what happened... but the fact that it's taken from the beginning of June until now to come up with plan's astounding."

"We came up with a plan in a couple of months and that was fully costed, ready to go, consulted with the police association and all the other key stakeholders," said Mr Nash.

The government says it had been working on the package since last May's Budget.