Fears over WoF changes

By Kate Shuttleworth

Photo / APN
Photo / APN

Funding for road police to carry out more vehicle checks after changes to the WOF system will be increased but fears have surfaces that additional staff won't be hired to cover expanded road policing duties

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced yesterday drivers whose cars are less than 13-years-old will only need annual warrant of fitness checks rather than six-monthly.

New Zealand Transport Agency announced today police would receive more funding in addition to the current $300 million it's funded to cover road policing.

NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield would not say how much the funding increase would be, but it's believed it will be about $5 million.

"We're intending to lift the budget there a little bit to deal with more enforcement activities from police related to this.

"A small increase would give us quite a bit of what we're looking for here.''

Mr Dangerfield said the extra funding would cover more roadside checks of things like brakes, lights and tyres.

Police Association President Greg O'Connor said the changes to the WOF system were a good compromise, but called for increased funding to be used to hire extra staff and did not want to see frontline staff seconded to the task.

Mr O'Connor said some police already carried out roadside checks of vehicles but the number of these checks would increase under the changes and would require more police officers.

He said the biggest danger was if existing staff were required to do the work and the funding wasn't used on the new policing regime.

"Every time you get a new important regime the resource invariably comes from the front line section, as long as there are extra staff to do this it will work - not just moving the deck chairs.

"Almost invariably when a new response happens in police it comes from response policing, which is the people that turn up when you need them.

"Police are pretty much stretched at every level they are at the moment.''

Mr O'Connor said not all police officers will have the skills to carry out roadside checks and extra training and equipment would be needed.

Labour Party's police spokesman Kris Faafoi said frontline policing resources were already stretched after funding cuts in 2012.

"If we're going to put more duties on top of existing frontline police duties, then that is a lot more pressure on frontline police officers.

"Do frontline police officers really want to be checking the depth of tyres at 3am,'' he said.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said funding levels for Police were maintained in Budget 2012.

"Funding levels for Police were maintained in the Budget, yet Labour's Police spokesperson continues to claim there were cuts.''

"The truth is that Police, like everyone else, are having to live within their means and are working smarter and better,'' said Mrs Tolley.

Acting national manager of road policing, inspector Pete McKennie, said police would work with road safety partners to implement the changes announced at the weekend.

"We will be meeting with those agencies in the coming weeks to explore options for enforcement, but no decisions have been reached at this early stage.''

He would not comment on an increase in funding or how the expanded duties would be delivered.

The changes to the WOF system are tagged to save motorists $159 million a year _ at least $1.8 billion over 30 years.

- APNZ

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