West Coast MP admits letter he sent to Police Minister a 'cock-up'

By Lee Scanlon

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor. Photo / Supplied
West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor. Photo / Supplied

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor has admitted a letter he sent to the Police Minister protesting proposed West Coast police cuts was a "cock-up".

The letter refers to the loss of the Karamea and Ross sole-charge constables, saying new technology would not replace the presence and availability of police officers.

"I oppose the withdrawal of staff from these two communities and ask that extra resources be allocated to the Tasman District to ensure the positions remain," the letter said.

It does not mention that Westport also stands to lose its youth aid officer, community constable and search and rescue co-ordinator/alcohol harm reduction sergeant.

Asked today about the omissions, Mr O'Connor admitted the letter had been a "cock-up".

"It was a letter done quickly to the minister, to get on the table our opposition to what they were doing."

However, the letter was dated February 16 - more than three weeks after the review document, which details the cuts, was released.

Mr O'Connor said today he firmly opposed the removal of Westport's youth aid officer.

"At a time when we're under huge pressure we want that person on the ground. And the individual [Constable Paul Sampson] is brilliant."

He said the status quo policing worked for the West Coast, bringing security for the community and low crime rates. There was no justification for changing it.

Police Minister Judith Collins said politicians could not instruct police in operational matters.

"This includes how, where and when they deploy their resources and staff."

Ms Collins said she had forwarded his letter to police, who were collating and considering submissions to the review.

Westport's third police consultation meeting will be at the Victoria Square emergency operations room from 3pm-6pm tomorrow. No further meetings have been scheduled at Karamea.

Submissions close on March 4.

- Westport News

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