Extra police officers won't make NZ safer says advocacy group

By Jessica Tyson

Criminal justice advocacy group People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA) says having new frontline police officers on the streets will not make New Zealand communities safer.

Today, Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced 1,800 new additional officers, following a $298.8mil increase for police in Budget 2018.

PAPA spokeswoman Emilie Rākete says there is no reason to believe New Zealand has a shortage of police officers.

“The problems we face in our communities are poverty, desperation, and deprivation.  New Zealand is experiencing record low crime rates.  More cops will not improve conditions in our communities.”

According to Rākete, the announcement is contrary to the government’s promise of reducing the prison population by 30 percent.

“Put simply, more cops means there will be more people in prison," says Rākete.

“Our prisons are currently swollen far beyond their capacity.  New Zealand needs to be beginning the process of decarceration, not sending out more officers to round people up.”

However Bush says the 1,800 officers, alongside 485 support staff “will really enhance our work to keep people safe, and ensure they feel safe.”

A total of 1,280 of the new staff will be deployed to districts, including 200 staff with a specific focus on preventing crime related to gangs and drug-related offending.

“A big part of this package is the unprecedented investment to combat the harm caused by organised crime, gangs and the supply of methamphetamine in our communities.”

A further 520 police will be in national roles aiming to counter high-level organised crime, break national and international drug supply chains and to train, support and coordinate local teams to prevent harm.

They include specialist authorised officers to grow and develop the digital frontline in cyber crime and other specialist areas to reflect modern policing challenges.

Bush says over the next few years all twelve policing districts will receive a significant boost.