1 Dec 2016

Collins disputes officer's 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' claims

6:23 pm on 1 December 2016

Police Minister Judith Collins is unaware of any evidence officers have been diverted from organised crime to respond to burglaries, she says.

22082016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. Caucas run. Judith Collins

Police Minister Judith Collins Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

A frontline police officer wrote in the union's monthly newsletter claiming a squad had been shut down and that staff were being drawn away from general duties.

The officer described diverting resources to attend burglaries as "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and that police were at "rock bottom" and "chasing their tails".

Ms Collins confirmed in July that burglaries would be treated as priority offences and police would aim to attend all calls.

Ms Collins said police had the resources to do that.

"I can certainly say the Police Commissioner takes burglaries very seriously.

"He has confirmed to me that he does have the resources, but I am absolutely aware that going into the future we are going to have to have more resources."

When asked if it was acceptable if units had been shut down, Ms Collins said burglaries were "extremely important".

"I always respect the views of frontline police officers", she said, "but it's really difficult if they write anonymous letters... I'd like to hope police officers who were concerned about something like that would take the matter through to their own supervisors and then to the executive so that people actually know."

Shortly afterwards in Parliament, Labour's Stuart Nash asked the minister if she agreed with the opinions expressed by the officer in the police newsletter.

She replied she "certainly" agreed with the views he had on the impact burglaries have on victims.

"And for those reasons I support police's increased focus on burglary... however the officer was incorrect to say the police budget has been frozen."

Mr Nash then asked whether she had received any reports about police being moved permanently or temporarily to solve burglaries.

Ms Collins told the House she understood that claim was in a trade union newsletter but that she had "no evidence other than that".

Mr Nash also asked Ms Collins about the latest crime figures.

"How does she explain to the people of New Zealand an increase of over 13,000 over the last 12 months, that's 250 crimes extra a week, compared to the 12 months previous and yet [she] still has done nothing to increase police numbers."

In response, Ms Collins said 70 percent of those numbers were burglaries.

"That's why police are focussing on burglaries."