24-hour staffing of sta­tions is axed

The Southland Times - - Front Page - Rachael Kelly

The Bal­clutha po­lice sta­tion and a ru­ral South­land sta­tion won’t be staffed around the clock be­cause the po­lice have adopted a de­mand-based ap­proach to re­gional de­ploy­ment.

Clutha-South­land MP Hamish Walker said the de­ci­sion will lead to more vic­tims.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Paul Basham said with the ex­tra in­vest­ment of 1800 ex­tra po­lice in Bud­get 2018, the pre­vi­ous pop­u­la­tion-based tar­get of 95 per cent of New Zealan­ders that live within 25km of a 24/7 po­lice base was re­moved, with po­lice in­stead adopt­ing a de­mand-based ap­proach to re­gional de­ploy­ment to best keep provin­cial com­mu­ni­ties safe.

‘‘This re­vised ap­proach means po­lice dis­tricts have more flex­i­bil­ity to de­ploy staff in a way that en­sures of­fi­cers are work­ing when and where they are needed most, based on de­mand as de­ter­mined by the lo­cal District Com­man­der.

‘‘NZ po­lice is com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing po­lice num­bers, ex­pand­ing our pres­ence and vis­i­bil­ity, and im­prov­ing polic­ing ser­vices to our re­gional com­mu­ni­ties. Many of these re­gional ar­eas are al­ready be­gin­ning to see more po­lice in their com­mu­ni­ties.’’

Po­lice Min­is­ter Stu­art Nash said the de­ci­sion was not made by him. He said lo­cal com­man­ders are best placed to de­ploy their re­sources where de­mand dic­tates and where they be­lieve staff will be best utilised.

‘‘I don’t see any ad­van­tage to hav­ing a uni­formed of­fi­cer sit­ting at a desk at 3am on a Tues­day morn­ing, I would rather they were out in the com­mu­nity.

‘‘Re­sponse times are what mat­ters too – and po­lice are putting a lot of ef­fort into that, with av­er­age times of be­tween 7-12 min­utes to re­spond.’’

Nash said the in­crease in po­lice num­bers meant in the south­ern district, there will be 88 ex­tra front­line of­fi­cers, an in­crease of 16 per cent on cur­rent staffing lev­els.

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