Verve Article - March 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Investing in Safer communities

Our new Prime Minister, Bill English, has had a fast start in 2017.  I was pleased his first major announcement unveiled a significant Government investment in police and the wider justice sector to reduce crime and keep our communities safe.

We are fortunate in this part of Auckland to enjoy relatively safe streets. By one measure New Zealand is the fourth-safest country in the world. We want to make it number one.

The half-billion dollar Safer Communities package will provide an extra 1125 police staff, including 880 sworn police officers.

All police districts will receive extra frontline officers with the Police deciding how many will go where, based on need. The first recruits will begin training in July and hit the beat in November.

This package unashamedly targets offenders to ensure they are off our streets – by providing additional resources to resolve more crime and target criminal gangs and organised crime.

The 880 extra frontline police officers will work in areas where we know they’re needed. This includes 500 to go out on the beat and into community policing. Those officers will improve the speed of police to attend emergencies. They will also focus on youth offending, burglaries, and community crime.

There is a 3am spike in criminal offending in Auckland, when the Police’s ‘Eagle' helicopter stops operating. The Eagle will now be funded to run 24/7, every day of the year. It’s annoying when you’re trying to sleep to have the chopper overhead, but we do need it from time to time. 

Ethnic communities also get more support. 20 additional ethnic liaison officers will support Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic communities and businesses to stop crime in these communities.

There will be more specialist investigators in the areas of child protection, sexual assault, and family violence. And more officers will target organised crime.

We’re also providing additional resources to address the underlying drivers of crime – through preventative work by the Police and greater investment in rehabilitation for prisoners.

By focusing on specific areas in this wide-ranging policy we will deliver a more responsive police service, prevent crime and victimisation, resolve more crimes, and more effectively target criminal gangs and organised crime.

The package also comes with a range of challenging targets for the Police. Those include higher attendance at home burglaries, more assets seized from organised crime, fewer deaths from family violence, and a reduction in reoffending by Māori.

The targets won’t be easy to meet – but we don’t shy away from hard issues.

We’re here to make a difference. Investing more in police will make our communities safer. It will reduce crime and reoffending, and help steer some of our most disadvantaged young people onto a more productive path.

That’s an outcome worth investing in.