The Government’s decision to axe a universally-supported pilot to improve the response to 111 mental health calls is nothing short of disgraceful, especially after Labour pledged to make mental health a priority, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“It has been revealed that Labour has scrapped a pilot in which a mental health nurse would attend mental health incidents alongside police and paramedics to ensure that people in distress receive timely responses that are tailored to their needs.
“Police spend around 280 hours a day responding to mental health calls. They do a good job, but are not mental health professionals so having a mental health nurse deployed to incidents with police would make a real difference.
“The increasing demand on police to respond to mental health crises is set to continue. That’s why the National Government set aside $8 million for the pilot as part of our $100 million mental health package.
“Police Minister Stuart Nash confirmed in answers to written questions the day of the Police Estimates hearing that the pilot would be canned, yet Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the hearing that police were very hopeful it would continue – in front of Mr Nash.
“Mr Nash has admitted that police are dealing with more and more mental health cases. The pilot would have eased pressure on police and improved the quality of the response for those experiencing mental distress.
“It beggars belief that this Government would axe the potentially game-changing pilot which had universal support from those on the frontline dealing with mental health, including mental health expert Nigel Fairley who said in February that the pilot was top of his spending list.
“The Government is again wilfully disregarding the expert advice and belittling calls from police and mental health experts to improve first responder processes.
“People need more help now. The Government must listen to the experts and reinstate funding for this pilot immediately.”
The Government must release the terms of reference of the inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Police Commissioner given it’s now two weeks since the Acting Prime Minister announced the inquiry, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Following concerns raised by Louise Nicholas regarding the appropriateness of Mr Haumaha’s promotion, Winston Peters announced on June 29 that there would be an inquiry into the appointment.
“That appeared to be the right thing to do, given Mr Haumaha’s highly disappointing comments regarding serious allegations made against his friends in the Police which Police Minister Stuart Nash claimed to have no knowledge of prior to Mr Haumaha’s appointment.
“The Government has a duty to get to the bottom of why Mr Nash and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern weren’t told of these comments, especially in light of the fact Ms Nicholas previously raised concerns about Mr Haumaha’s appointment as Assistant Commissioner.
“As it’s since been revealed that Mr Haumaha was selected as a candidate for NZ First in the 2005 General Election, the inquiry must also look into potential issues of probity and conflicts of interest given Mr Haumaha was promoted under a Labour-NZ First Government.
“But it’s been two weeks since the inquiry was announced and we’re still yet to hear anything about the terms of reference or who will chair the inquiry.
“The process around this inquiry has been a debacle from the start, with the inappropriate appointment of NZ First MP and party insider Tracey Martin as the minister in charge of the inquiry.
“The public deserves answers and the Government needs to get on with the inquiry, make the terms of reference public and tell us who exactly will be conducting it.”
Hutt South MP Chris Bishop has presented a petition to Parliament today in support of his Member’s Bill to allow restaurants that hold on-licences to sell alcohol, to also hold off-licences under the same roof.
Mr Bishop, who was accompanied by Antonio Cacace, owner of top Italian restaurant La Bella Italia in Petone and former owner of Bel Mondo International food market, says around 3,000 people have signed the petition.
“The Sale and Supply of Liquor Act currently prohibits ‘shops within shops’, which means that restaurants that are also speciality food stores have great difficulty in selling alcohol through an off-licence under the same roof and at the same time,” he says.
“Bel Mondo closed recently after licencing authorities asked Antonio to erect a wall separating the dining area from the food store and operate two separate companies in order to sell wine to take away.
“At La Bella Italia in Petone, customers who wish to purchase a bottle of wine after trying it in the restaurant are required to buy the wine online on an iPad in the corner of the store and pick it up from a separate entrance out the back.
“There are other examples I know of around the country. These ridiculous situations can be fixed by my proposed simple amendment to the Sale of Supply of Liquor Act.
“The fact that 3,000 people have signed a petition located only in one restaurant (La Bella) indicates the strong public support for such a move. I hope this common-sense amendment will receive broad support across the Parliament.”
The petition will now be considered by the Justice Committee.
Serious questions of probity regarding the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Police Commissioner must be answered by Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“This appointment is being called into question, not only because of Mr Haumaha’s highly disappointing comments about serious allegations made against fellow police officers which the Police Minister says he wasn’t aware of, but also because of his close ties to the Acting Prime Minister and NZ First.
“It was today confirmed Mr Haumaha was selected to run as a candidate for NZ First in the 2005 General Election.
“Given both of these issues it’s clear that there are potential issues of probity and conflicts of interest regarding his promotion under a Labour-NZ First Government.
“Mr Peters must explain whether he disclosed this conflict at Cabinet given Mr Haumaha was once a candidate of his party, and how this conflict was managed during the appointment process.
“He must also explain his completely inappropriate appointment of NZ First MP, and former party official, Tracey Martin as the minister in charge of the inquiry.
“Mr Peters needs to explain how the public can now have confidence that the inquiry will be independent, robust and transparent.
“These questions, and the questions put to Police Minister Stuart Nash last week, must be addressed by the Government if the public is to have any trust in its processes and to ensure the hard-earned reputation of our police force isn’t tarnished.”
Police Minister Stuart Nash has some explaining to do about his appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Police Commissioner, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Mr Haumaha has made some highly disappointing comments about very serious allegations made against his friends in the New Zealand Police.
“Mr Nash must answer the following questions:
- Did he know about these comments? If he did, why did he make the decision to appoint Mr Haumaha to such a senior role?
- If he didn’t know, then why not? Did no one tell him, and if so, why not?
- Knowing what we all know now, would he have still made the appointment?
- What did the State Services Commission panel know?
- What effect will this appointment will have on Police culture and the public’s trust in our Police?
“Police have worked hard for years to regain the public’s trust and confidence, and Mr Nash needs to explain how the appointment of Mr Haumaha as the new Deputy Commissioner will not set them back.”
Police Minister Stuart Nash has today admitted he abolished two important Police targets focused on keeping New Zealanders safe, without taking the decision to Cabinet, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Mr Nash confirmed in Parliament today that he unilaterally abolished the targets of 98 per cent of burglaries being attended within 48 hours and 95 per cent of New Zealanders to live within 25km of a 24/7 police station by June 2022.
“This continues a worrying trend of Ministers making decisions on the fly and not bothering to take important issues to Cabinet – like Health Minister David Clark on the abolition of national health targets or Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on her oil and gas exploration ban.
“Mr Nash’s reckless attitude towards Police targets, coupled with the Government’s soft-on-crime approach to crime is putting New Zealanders at risk.
“Mr Nash’s abolition of police targets is at odds with comments by Police Commissioner Mike Bush who, in relation to the nine Police performance targets set by the previous Government, said ‘they’re the right targets for the Police. They are the things we should be aiming at … they’re the things that we, as an executive, think are the right performance outcomes for the New Zealand Police on behalf of the public we serve’.
“Commissioner Bush is right. Mr Nash made a lot of noise in Opposition about burglaries, but in Government he refuses to implement targets focused on keeping the public safe.
“Mr Nash must urgently clarify exactly what targets, if any, the Police will actually be held to account for delivering.”
The Government’s pledge to put fewer people in prison is already starting to bite, as it drops previous targets aimed at solving more crime and keeping New Zealanders safe, National’s Police spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Police Minister Stuart Nash has confirmed to Parliament’s Justice committee that the Government has formally dropped two important police targets established under National.
“First, that 98 per cent of burglaries would be attended by Police within 48 hours, and second, that 95 per cent of New Zealanders would live within 25km of a 24/7 police station.
“Both of these were ensuring that Police responded to crimes faster, that New Zealanders were safer and more offenders were held to account.
“They had the backing of Police and New Zealanders and it beggars belief that the Government is putting more resources into Police but has formally dropped these targets.
“You can’t improve what you don’t measure and you can’t be properly held to account when you don’t collect the right information and it’s starting to look like this Government is doing that on purpose.
“With a pledge to cut the prison numbers by a third and no plan on how to do it, the Government looks like it is preparing to fudge the numbers, catch fewer criminals and solve less crime and that’s a real concern.
“Mr Nash spent most of his time in Opposition criticising burglary resolution rates and the closure of police kiosks and stations, yet one of his first actions as Minister is to make a hypocrite of himself.
“The dropping of these targets comes on the back of a horror week in law and order for the Government and New Zealanders will rightly be concerned about this Government’s incompetent handling of their safety.”
The Ardern-Peters Government is playing Russian Roulette with public safety as it continues to make a mess of law and order, with Police Minister Stuart Nash admitting today that he doesn’t bother to read official advice, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“In an extraordinary performance before the Justice Select Committee this morning, Mr Nash confirmed he hadn’t bothered to read a briefing from Police titled ‘Alternative Five Year Phasing Options for 1800 New Police’.
“It just beggars belief that he didn’t bother to read a paper from officials providing advice on his flagship policy to add 1800 cops to the beat.
“If that wasn’t bad enough, he also confirmed that when he does read advice, he simply ignores it if it doesn’t suit him.
“Mr Nash’s own Cabinet paper says that the Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections estimate between 650 and 900 extra prison beds will be needed as a result of adding more cops to the beat.
“But this advice doesn’t suit the Government because it doesn’t want to build the required prison beds.
“Instead of reading and taking on the advice of officials, Mr Nash, who clearly thinks he knows better, continues to make pie in the sky statements about how the extra police will prevent crime and won’t impact the prison population.
“Being ‘determined’ to prevent crime is not enough to ensure public safety.
“Any responsible government would take the advice of officials and build the required number of prison beds so that dangerous criminals can be taken off the streets.
“The arrogance of this reckless and incompetent Government is putting the safety of New Zealanders at risk.”
The extra police promised by the Government will mean an additional 900 prison beds will be needed – yet it will announce tomorrow that it is downsizing the plans for Waikeria Prison, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“This makes no sense but that’s typical of the clumsy and incompetent Ardern-Peters Government, particularly when it comes to law and order policy.
“National had plans to build a new 1500-bed facility at Waikeria Prison to accommodate forecast growth in the prison population, partly because of the 880 extra sworn cops we were adding to the beat.
“More police will mean more arrests which will mean even more prison beds are needed, over and above what was already planned.
“But incredibly, not only is the Government not increasing prison beds as advised by officials in a leaked draft paper to Cabinet, it will tomorrow likely announce that it is doing the opposite and adding only 600 new prison beds at Waikeria.
“That means the Government will have to significantly weaken our bail, parole and sentencing laws – and effectively instruct police officers to catch and release.
“This will make our communities less safe, because we know that 98 per cent of people in prison are there for our most serious offences, in spite of the Prime Minister claiming otherwise.
“But those are the only options available to the Government to be able to counteract the increase in the number of offenders caught by police so that it doesn’t have to increase prison capacity and can reach its arbitrary target of cutting prisoner numbers by a third.
“This is ultimately at the expense of the safety of New Zealanders, and proves everything incoming Prime Minister Winston Peters has said about being tough on crime is a sham.”
Jacinda Ardern and Stuart Nash have broken the trust of Kiwis who believed them when they said they’d keep their promise to add 1800 frontline cops over three years, National’s Police Spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Even when it was becoming obvious to everyone that the Government wasn’t going to keep this promise, Ms Ardern dug her heels in and on the eve of the Budget told Parliament that it was still her Government’s policy to add 1800 sworn police over the next three years.
“And despite Ms Ardern and Mr Nash continuing to claim the extra cops will be delivered in three years, Budget documents clearly confirm the Government will be taking five years to bring them on.
“No matter how much the Government tries to weasel of admitting that it has broken its promise by claiming it is ‘striving towards’ delivering 1800 extra cops in three years, it’s clear it made an unrealistic pledge to New Zealanders that it will not able to deliver upon.
“Not only that, but the Government will be claiming the 880 sworn frontline cops funded under the National Government, of which over 400 recruits have already graduated. That means the Government is only adding 920 more cops, with just 220 of those being frontline.
“But exactly what ‘frontline’ means these days is unclear. Mr Nash has tried to redefine the term in recent weeks to include backoffice staff, who are no doubt important, but they won’t be turning up to dairies after an aggravated robbery or attending family violence incidents.
“The most important thing is that these extra cops improve public safety. But with no Government plan to reduce crime and moving towards softening bail laws, it seems that all these extra cops will be required to do is catch and release.
“There’s no point letting more cops in through the front door if you’re just going to let more criminals out through the back door.”