Govt’s police recruitment promise on the scrap heap

The Government has lived up to its soft-on-crime reputation by pushing pause on its plans to increase police numbers by 1800, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

In 2017, Labour promised to grow the Police’s ranks by 1800 over three years, but it never got close. Instead, it tried to fool the public by claiming its promise never included attrition. Former Police Minister Stuart Nash shifted the goalposts last year, saying the net increase of 1800 officers wouldn’t actually happen until 2021.

Now it’s been revealed that police stopped training because they got ahead of their five-year budget, according to the Police Association. The 1800 target is unlikely to be met until 2023.

“It is disappointing to learn that Police have deferred all upcoming intakes until at least May because it feels there is now ‘less of a need for recruits’,” Mr Brown says.

“There were more than 270,000 victims of crime in the year ending October 2020. I don’t think they would agree there is less need for police officers out on the beat.

A six-month drought of new cops hitting the streets doesn’t make sense when there has been a 13 per cent increase in gang membership over the past year and we have seen an increasing amount of gang and gun violence on our streets, Mr Brown says.

“Many of these promised new police officers were meant to be focussed on organised crime and drugs.

“This is yet another broken promise from the Labour Government, which shows it is not fully committed to stamping out crime and keeping New Zealand’s communities safe.

“National is committed to keeping New Zealanders safe and giving Police the resources they need. We will grow police numbers and increase the allocation of officers to rural areas, including expanding one-person police stations to two-person police stations.”