Today’s big announcement by Police Minister Stuart Nash and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters about 1800 new police officers is another example of spin over substance, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Mr Nash trumpeted this as a massive increase in frontline sworn police officers, but the reality is that only around two thirds of the total will be deployed into Police districts and not even all of those will be frontline officers.
“This total includes the 800 extra officers delivered by the previous Government. That means this Government is only delivering an additional 420 police staff over five years and not all of those will be frontline.
“This is hardly the ‘biggest increase in Police resources’ ever as Mr Nash claims.
“The Minister is also playing fast and loose with the cost because both he and the Prime Minister have been caught out making those numbers up on the hoof.
“Mr Nash claims the package was ‘fully-funded over five years’ but he’s repeatedly said previously that the $298.8 million he received in Budget 2018 was not enough and he would be seeking more cash in 2019.
“Leaked Cabinet papers earlier in the year show that Mr Nash initially wanted $515 million to roll-out the new police, so there is a $217 million gap he will need to fill. At least he’s not saying the package will cost ‘just $40 million a year’ as Prime Minister Ardern did.
“Mr Nash has also finally confirmed the 1800 new police will be rolled-out over five years, in spite of Mr Nash’s repeated denials. He was either wrong or he’s been overruled.
“Finally, while more police is great, it’s very disappointing the Government has dropped the additional targets National set for the police as part of our Safer Communities package.
“Labour and NZ First have officially dropped the target of 98 per cent of all burglaries being responded to within 48 hours and for 95 per cent of New Zealanders to live within 25km of 24/7 patrolling police. Those would have made a real difference to the safety of our communities but the Government is not willing to hold itself to account.”