We began the year with the National coalition government’s Safer Communities Package, promising $388 million for 880 extra cops and 245 Police employees.
We finish the year with the Labour coalition government’s promise to hike those numbers to 1800 – a mix of sworn, non-sworn and authorised officers. This is a flagship coalition policy commitment and, when it comes to budget allocations, this should add weight.
Each time a new police minister is appointed the Association is quick to prepare a briefing paper outlining the real issues that impact on the policing environment. We are very upfront in conveying to the minister that we are a reliable channel of communication between our more than 11,000 members and the minister’s office.
We trust our members to tell it like it is, and we guard our unique role of passing that on directly to the minister.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting the new minister, Stuart Nash, who, as you will know, was a vocal police spokesperson when in opposition, and he has reaffirmed his commitment to talk with the Association on matters of mutual interest and/or concern.
The minister fully understands that the policy of 1800 new police is an ambitious one, and that there will be challenges in meeting it. However, aspiring to a goal that has the potential to make a real difference to the safety of New Zealand communities is much more positive than consigning the challenge to the “too hard basket”.
I believe our members will welcome the new Government’s wish to emphasise the importance of both community policing and tackling organised crime. These areas were raised as significant concerns in our 2017 Member Survey.
I indicated to the minister that frontline public safety teams and youth services must form a key part of the community policing approach, and that the current low resolution rates for crime are, to a degree a reflection on the number of investigators deployed across the country.
The key to attaining 1800 extra police is recruitment. At current attrition rates, Police will need to recruit 1000 officers a year for the next three years. That means about 560 more recruits than are currently going through the college annually.
There is a role for us in helping make it happen. Police staff themselves are known to be the best recruiters, so now is your opportunity to promote this great career to friends, whanau, sporting and other groups you are associated with. We all want more police to help share the workload by fattening up that thin blue line.
As we enter the busy holiday period, however, our resources remain stretched across the country, so please look after yourselves and each other. When you can, take every opportunity to catch up with family/whanau and friends and have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Nga mihi o te wa me te Tau Hou.