Southland police face job cuts

Yesterday police confirmed job support positions would be cut. Photo / File
Yesterday police confirmed job support positions would be cut. Photo / File

Ten non-sworn police jobs will be cut in the south, but the Southern District commander maintains changes are designed to get police from "filling out endless forms" and on the frontline.

Yesterday police confirmed job support positions would be cut from Oamaru, Balclutha, Gore and Te Anau.

In addition six district support positions from Dunedin, Invercargill and Central Otago will be transferred to Auckland, to staff the police national 24-hour telephone reporting line.

That reporting line, already in place for most of the country, is expected to be rolled out for the district in June.

Southern District Police commander, Superintendent Bob Burns told the Otago Daily Times that a new Dunedin-based centralised district file management centre, designed to take paperwork off police, would be created.

Currently, files were "all over the place", and to counter this police were moving from labour intensive paper files towards electronically collating data.

That system would enable officers to enter and update information via phone or computer tablets while on the frontline, he said.

Officers were spending up to two hours "filling out endless forms" on an arrest in order to get the matter to prosecutions.

"It is a lot of double handling and it is inefficient."

The file centre - when operational - would also include some centralised telephony, records and typing services.

Supt Burns said the changes will help police's focus on prevention and "this will give us an opportunity to spend more time out of the station".

"And let's face it (officers) biggest gripe is about paperwork, and the biggest gripe from our community is that they don't see enough of us... so it is going to be a win-win situation."

He acknowledged that there would be "a bit of pain to get there", but the focus was delivering a better service for the public.

Staff were given a decision document earlier this week, following a three-week consultation phase.

"Some people are pretty upset, and so they should be. They have given fantastic service to an organisation and their community for a long time... but it is the nature of restructures."

The restructuring would see Southern District staff reduced from 655 staff to 645, and the options available to affected staff included reassignment, redeployment, and voluntary severance.

He said there would no longer be a reception staff member at the North Dunedin station but officers would still be based there, while hours for the South Dunedin station would be reduced.

The move to the new structure was expected to be completed by March 31.

Supt Burns expected there will be an adjustment period for police, with job losses and the technological changes "I don't think the public will notice any difference, but we will notice as police officers".

Dunedin North MP David Clark said "the jury was out"in regards to the announced changes.

"There are some sensible changes going on in the police as they try to work within tight budgets."

In regards to North Dunedin, he had been reassured by police that there would be a regular community clinic for members of the public to raise concern.

"My view is that the availability of frontline police must be protected so members of the public feel that they have access to the police officers they pay for through their taxes."

- Otago Daily Times

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