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It has been a whirlwind few months for the new police minister after being handed the role only weeks after entering Cabinet. She has already earmarked retail crime, youth offending and gangs as top priorities ahead of October’s election.

What is your vision for the future of New Zealand Police?
That police are in touch with the communities they serve, have the resources and the laws to do the job. Ideally, police have the intel and capability to keep an eye on the horizon for emerging crime trends so crime can be prevented.

What are your priorities ahead of this year’s election?
Number 1 is making sure frontline police officers are resourced to do their jobs well. I’ve also said that important areas of focus for me are addressing retail crime and youth offending, as well as continuing to dismantle organised criminal networks.

You have worked for Police. Did you ever fancy being a police officer?
Yes, I did – I’ve always been interested in organised crime and how to counter that – and I get to continue to do that at a different level now.

What would you say to those concerned about the burden on police around mental health callouts and youth offending?
This is an area I want to do more work on – police do a fantastic job responding to these callouts but they are not a mental health service. We need to continue to find ways of working more efficiently so people are given the professional support they need earlier.

What is your view on general arming for frontline police officers?
In March, we announced the rollout of the new Tactical Response Model. This training means that when Police are required to access firearms, they can do so safely and efficiently.

What advice has Prime Minister and former police minister, Chris Hipkins given you about the portfolio?
To get out on the frontline and meet police officers. We share priorities around working on retail crime and youth offending. He’s a busy man but he did a fantastic job in the portfolio.

You are reasonably new to Cabinet. How are you finding it?
I’m loving it. It’s a real honour and I’ve been enjoying getting around the country and speaking with our frontline officers.

Our members are encountering an increasing amount of gang and gun crime. What’s your view on this concerning trend?
There’s no doubt about it – the return of 501 deportees has added a higher degree of sophistication in organised crime that New Zealand has not seen before. In response to this, the frontline has an additional 700 police officers dedicated to dismantling organised criminal networks. I’m hearing from frontline officers that this investment and the TRM are both making a real difference.

You’ve lived in many places in New Zealand (Great Barrier Island, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Christchurch and Lower Hutt) – which is your favourite and why?
The Hutt’s got it all. The beach, native bush, a beautiful river, and truly fantastic people. You just can’t beat it.

Tell us about your family life and interests outside of Parliament.
I’m very busy with my new roles so I don’t get as much time at home as I did in the past. I’ve got four kids ranging from adults to nine years old. My husband does a great job of working fulltime and doing all the washing – I would be lost without him.

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