No sworn police officers will lose their jobs as the Eastern Police District cuts numbers.
New Napier-based district commander Superintendent Sandra Venables made the promise yesterday, after Labour Party Tukituki candidate Anna Lorck revealed to Hawke's Bay Today the planned shedding of seven sworn positions and 10 non-sworn staff throughout the district, which stretches from Norsewood to East Cape.
It came as Ms Lorck challenged MP and National candidate Craig Foss over what she believes were wrong claims that Hawke's Bay has a "low" crime rate.
Ms Venables said each of the country's 12 police districts had an allocated headcount, and the Eastern District had more than its allocation of 417 sworn staff and 55 non-sworn staff.
She said new roles had been created under the new police operating model of Policing Excellence, such as Neighbourhood Policing Teams, the Crime Reporting Line and Criminal Justice Support Units.
"Previous roles under the old structure have been maintained during the implementation of this new way of working, so the district is now above its allocated headcount," she said.
It was time to address the situation, she said.
"This will not result in any sworn staff losing their jobs," she said. "But the district leadership team will be realigning some positions to fit in with our Prevention First strategy and may not replace some vacant roles."
Staff had been told but she said it was at an "early stage" and added: "There is still a consultation process to go through and no final decisions have been made. This realignment process doesn't mean any reduction to Eastern's allocated numbers."
Ms Venables said the focus on prevention changes the way police work with victims, and it also changes the way staff work, providing a "framework for understanding and responding to issues at the root of crime, so we are not always simply reacting to issues associated with individual cases".
"This is delivering real results for communities elsewhere and I am absolutely committed to ensuring the same outcomes are achieved for communities in Eastern District," she said.
The Tukituki MP and National Party candidate reiterated that the number of crimes in Hawke's Bay had dropped from 16,912 in 2008 - the last year of the last Labour government - to 15,487 last year, meaning crime rates had declined over the term of the latest government.
Ms Lorck said Mr Foss needed to face facts.
"I'm dealing with what is happening now, not trying to compare to statistics from eight years ago.
" The truth is right now crime in our district is the worst in the country."