Law’s long arm may stretch

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Waikato’s smaller towns, in­clud­ing Mata­mata, are likely to lose po­lice in a pro­posed district-wide re­struc­tur­ing, an­ger­ing some who say crime will go un­solved as a re­sult.

A doc­u­ment leaked to the Waikato Times re­veals de­tails of the pro­posal, un­der which dozens of po­lice jobs will be dis­es­tab­lished, re­as­signed and re­named.

The move has prompted con­cerns about longer re­sponse times and fewer con­vic­tions, as less ex­pe­ri­enced, younger staff are left to pick up the slack.

It has also dis­ap­pointed Waikato may­ors, some of whom were un­aware of the pro­posal.

De­tec­tives in Cam­bridge and Te Kuiti would move to an in­ves­tiga­tive hub in Te Awa­mutu, and those in Mata­mata and Waihi would be re­as­signed out of town.

One com­mu­nity con­sta­ble from Mata­mata would be moved to a new child pro­tec­tion unit in Paeroa.

There would be fewer

on-call

of­fi­cers across the re­gion and many other po­lice would shift into new roles.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako Mayor Hugh Ver­coe was un­aware of plans to re­move three of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing a de­tec­tive, from Mata­mata and Mor­rinsville, call­ing the move ‘‘ex­tremely dis­ap­point­ing’’.

‘‘A re­duc­tion in staff num­bers, I would think, would au­to­mat­i­cally re­sult in a re­duc­tion of ser­vice . . . hopefully the hi­er­ar­chy will come and con­sult with us.’’

Waikato po­lice district com­man­der Su­per­in­ten­dent Win van der Velde said the pro­posed re­struc­ture, which is open for con­sul­ta­tion, was about prevent­ing crime, rather than re­act­ing to it, in what is called a ‘‘preven­tion first’’ strat­egy.

He said the pro­posed new in­ves­tiga­tive hub would bet­ter serve sur­round­ing towns dur­ing se­ri­ous crim­i­nal cases, and the child pro­tec­tion unit would help to re­duce the grow­ing num­ber of child abuse cases.

It was not a staff or cost-cut­ting ex­er­cise, he said.

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