18 Oct 2016

Urgent plea to send more police to Kaitaia

6:20 pm on 18 October 2016

Reshuffling police resources in the Far North won't go far in curbing Kaitaia's wave of methamphetamine-fuelled crime, say local community leaders.

Police officer in a vest on the street.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The government announced yesterday that one fifth of the $15 million set aside to fight the war on P would go towards a joint police and health initiative to reduce demand for the drug in Northland.

And four extra police officers were sent to Kaikohe - 80km away from Kaitaia - last week, two months after the Police Commissioner said six extra officers would be sent to the area for a year.

He Korowhai Trust chair Ricky Houghton said he was grateful that some extra officers had been sent.

But he said it was the lack of help, and the cost of getting it, that needed to change.

"It'll take those police 12 months to understand and build the trust of the people and the community, who are very concerned. In terms of impact, I guess it's a case of wait and see. But I don't think it is a police problem, I think it is all of our problem."

Labour MP Kelvin Davis, who represents Te Tai Tokerau, said it was ridiculous extra police officers badly needed in the crime-hit town of Kaitaia had been sent to another town instead.

He said police staff in Kaitaia were overworked, understaffed and under-resourced.

"We need to actually have the resource to go to where it is most needed. There is a need in the mid-North, but we also need the numbers up in Kaitaia."

Mr Davis said Kaitaia needed at least half a dozen more permanent staff right now.