More police officers on duty for longer
An extra 20 police stations around the country will be ramped up to a 24/7 cop presence over the next four years.
The announcement last week by Police Commissioner Mike Bush and Police Minister Paula Bennett provides the details of a $503 million package over four years to provide 880 more sworn officers, which Prime Minister Bill English committed in February this year.
Bush said one police target has been for 95 per cent of New Zealanders to live within 25 kilometres of a 24/7 police base by 2022.
‘‘We recognise that our regional communities have different pressures and concerns and feel safer if they know a 24/7 police response service is nearby.’’
The additional 24/7 stations mean active patrols will expand to cover more than 200,000 extra Kiwis.
The first four bases to be upgraded during 2017/18 will be Kaitaia, Matamata, Wairoa and Rolleston.
Over the next four years the rollout will continue and North Island locations include: Kaikohe/Kerikeri, Warkworth/ Wellsford, Dannevirke/ Waipukurau, Taumarunui, Te Kuiti, Thames, Dargaville, Helensville, and Stratford.
Bennett said the Safer Communities package, which also includes 245 non-sworn staff, coincides with police recruit applications being at an ‘‘all-time high’’ with twice the number of applicants over January and February in 2017 as the same period in 2016.
‘‘Now that the Commissioner has allocated these staff, it is up to the District Commanders to work though which areas within the district they’ll be based in. I can make the assurance that every area will get more officers,’’ she said.
Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash said many New Zealanders would be surprised to know that places like Wairoa, Kaitaia, Matamata and Rolleston don’t have 24/7 stations at the moment.
The investment will also mean an extra 80 police can focus on organised crime and 140 new staff will focus on family harm, child protection and adult sexual assault, Bush said.
The Government is also rolling out a new national 24/7 phone number for non-emergencies to take pressure off the 111 system.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the first new police recruits as part of a $503 million government package will graduate in October.