Law’s long arm may stretch
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
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.