Boost for the beat
Taihape police numbers are on the rise.
With Richard Wilson, a constable from south Auckland, starting this week, Taihape is back up to its ‘‘establishment’’ figure of seven police staff in the Rangitı¯kei town.
But on the downside, at Waiouru, which comes under Taihape’s policing umbrella, they’re down to one police officer and still seeking a second to be at full strength.
Also from Counties-Manukau and now at Taihape is Detective Constable Fuipua Mariner, a 38-year-old Samoan who began as a general duties constable in Taihape on November 24.
Counties-Manukau is the country’s hottest crime spot making the Taihape lifestyle and size a drastic contrast.
Rural towns like Taihape were at the centre of the police numbers political argument that raged during the election campaign, especially after New Zealand First vowed to do better for the regions if it gained power, which it now has.
Former prime minister Bill English, in his first state of the nation speech as the country’s leader earlier this year announced provision of 880 more sworn police and extra non-sworn staff over four years to target provincial and rural New Zealand.
Police minister at the time Paula Bennett said the idea was to have for 95 per cent of people living within 25 kilometres of a 24/7 police presence by 2022.
For the central police district that means upgrades to 24/7 status at Marton and Taumarunui, among others, but nothing anywhere near 25km from Taihape.
Which seems to put Taihape people in the 5 per cent of people who will miss out in the process for their station isn’t open around the clock even if someone is on call out of hours.
Central district police boss Sue Schwalger lauded National’s promises as ‘‘great news for rural communities’’.
A rural duties officer network was also set to be formed to ensure police would focus on rural issues, she said.
But Labour won power and in a deal with NZ First said there would be a hike of 1800 more frontline police over three years a huge increase over what National had spoken of. There’s a plan coming in the new year. New police minister Stuart Nash was adamant: the money is there, it’s part of the coalition agreement.
Taihape’s police force is back up to a full complement.