Bill English has announced a $503 million crime-fighting package including a boost to police numbers in his first major speech of the year as Prime Minister.
Police will get 1125 extra staff over four years, including 880 extra sworn police officers.
This includes 140 more officers for up to 20 regional and rural police stations, which means 95 per cent of the population lives within 25 km of a 24/7 police presence.
“Evidence tells us that if we want to reduce offending we need to address the underlying drivers of dysfunction rather than just respond to all the symptoms,” he told the Auckland Rotary.
The package showed that the Government was prepared to invest up-front in programmes that delivered results.
Police Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett attended the meeting as well.
English said the package would increase total police staff numbers to more than 13,000 from 11,925 by June 2021, and total sworn police numbers to nearly 9800 from about 8900.
English said the new measures were about “doing things smarter”.
“Last year I visited Palmerston North and was told about a family that police had visited 87 times for family violence callouts in the previous year.
“So rather than continue to visit the house every couple of days, social service agencies, working with police, got together and identified one aunty the father would listen to. They worked with her to support the family.
“The following year, those 87 callouts dropped to only one.
“That’s what I mean about doing things smarter.
“We are unashamedly targeting offenders to ensure they are off our streets by providing additional resources for police to resolve more crime, and target criminal gangs and organised crime.”
He said the Government was also providing additional resources to address the underlying drivers of crime through preventative work by the police and greater investment in rehabilitation for prisoners.
“This large investment is possible only because of New Zealanders’ hard work to build a strong economy, backed by the Government’s plan to create economic opportunities and get our books back in order.
“While the increase in police numbers is important, what really matters is ensuring it delivers better results for the community.”
The package will include:
• A 24-hour phone number for non-emergencies.
• Assigning 140 more officers for up to 20 regional and rural police stations, which means 95 per cent of the population lives within 25 km of a 24/7 police presence.
•140 additional specialist investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime – although 66 have been previously announced in last year’s family violence package.
• 80 additional officers to target organised crime, gangs and methamphetamine.
• 20 additional ethnic liaison officers for Chinese, Indian and other communities.
• Extending the availability of the Eagle helicopter to around the clock with the response time of 10-15 minutes – at present it is available at prescheduled times for only 1800 hours a year.
• 12 mobile policing units to respond to need including small towns, rural areas and community events.