Election 2014

16 Nov 2011

Corrections money could boost police budget - Collins

5:57 pm on 16 November 2011

National Party law and order spokesperson Judith Collins has told a Police Association conference that some money from the Corrections Department budget could be re-allocated to the police.

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Police Association president Greg O'Connor made it clear at the annual conference in Wellington on Wednesday that police cannot sustain their activities if funding is held at current levels.

"Police are already making internal budget cuts to make ends meet," he said.

"There is a direct correlation between police resourcing and the police ability to respond to prevent and reduce crime."

Mr O'Connor said it took several years and many millions of dollars for the police to recover from cuts made in the 1990s.

Judith Collins, who has spent the past three years as Police Minister and Corrections Minister, responded in her speech to the funding concerns.

"You've raised very serious issues around resourcing and how we can cope.

"But I think think you also need to take account of the fact that the prison population is dropping for the first time since the 1930s and that Corrections has a bit of money we might be able to filch across."

She said there had been "pretty much merged budgets" in the justice sector over the last three years which meant resourcing is able to be moved around.

But the director of prison reform group Rethinking Crime and Punishment, Kim Workman, said the department should keep all its money, which he said could be used elsewhere in the justice system more effectively.

And he said if Ms Collins believes Corrections can give up some money because of a falling prison population, it raises the question of whether there is still a need for the planned 1000 bed prison at Wiri.