National Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says there are big risks in the major shake-up to firearms administration released to Arms Officers yesterday and leaked to National.
The Police are proposing:
- All firearms activity and personnel will be managed by, and report to the Arms Act Service Delivery Group;
- That firearms administration tasks will be moved away from districts and towards central management;
- To establish a new national Service Centre, based in Kapiti, to manage end-to-end firearms administration; and
- Disestablishing hundreds of field-based arms officer and firearms licensing vettors; replacing them with a far fewer number of new positions at lower pay-scales.
“Some of the changes look sensible in principle, including moving some administration from the districts and the new national service centre. However, the firearms community will be rightly worried about the massive loss of institutional expertise through the disestablishment of arms officers and licensing vetting officers.
“Only six weeks has been allowed for consultation which is a pitiful amount of time given the large changes proposed.
“Many arms officers have been doing this very important work for years and have built up decades of expertise and knowledge. They’re one of the reasons New Zealand’s firearms administration is regarded as one of the best in the world.
“This looks like cost-cutting driven by a Police Minister who can’t get new money needed for firearms administration through the Cabinet. Instead of putting more money into the system and working on sensible changes; the Minister has driven the Police to propose a major shake-up with big risks to New Zealand’s excellent system.
“The proposal released by the Police yesterday wasn’t consulted on with the sector and has come totally out of the blue. I’ve received many calls already from people concerned about what the changes mean. Police Minister Stuart Nash must front-up and explain these changes to the firearms community and the New Zealand public.”