Police staff cite lack of resources as threat to law and order

By Kate Shuttleworth

A survey of NZ Police Association members found that staff numbers was the biggest issue facing police. File photo /NZPA
A survey of NZ Police Association members found that staff numbers was the biggest issue facing police. File photo /NZPA

In the face of restructuring and staff cuts, police say a lack of resources is becoming a threat to law and order.

A recent survey of New Zealand Police Association members showed 67 per cent were either "dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied" with both the fairness and the process followed when police restructuring took place.

Of the 3997 staff who responded to the Nielsen survey, 61 per cent said staff numbers was the biggest issue facing police.

The frontline and non-sworn support were named as the areas of police being most at risk of service failure because of recent budget cuts and efficiencies.

Respondents said that a lack of resources including people and equipment, were becoming a major threat to law and order - with 45 per cent of respondents saying it was a major issue.

The survey results come after two years of extensive restructuring of the police force, including centralisation of services and subsequent cuts in the number of non-sworn support staff.

Up to 67 per cent of those surveyed said they were involved in the restructure and had been told they were likely to be restructured in the future.

Only 6 per cent believed restructuring had resulted in improved service of efficiency.

One member said: "staffing numbers need to continue increasing, especially in the smaller areas. Office safety needs to be paramount and boosting numbers assists with this as well as being able to attend urgent jobs immediately when required."

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the results echoed what he had been told anecdotally.

"Obviously our structures look a little different under the Prevention First model but the success of those initiatives will be quickly undermined if the response area becomes ineffective at dealing with the crime that is not prevent," he said in an article in the Police News magazine.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said she had not seen the survey.

"What I have seen is the independent staff engagement survey that the police have done which shows ... 71 per cent in staff engagement," she said.

She had also seen crime statistics that were the lowest in 30 years.

"Something is working - it is a time of change but definitely crime is coming down," she said.

Labour's police spokesman Kris Faafoi said it was a damning indictment of Ms Tolley that only 6 per cent of police believed frontline cuts and restructuring had resulted in improved service or efficiency.

"This survey cannot be ignored. It shows our frontline cops are struggling to effectively do their job of keeping our communities safe in the face of Ms Tolley's relentless belt-tightening".

- APNZ

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