The risk of injury from Police chases is set to be cut in Auckland - with new funding for the Police "Eagle" helicopter meaning it can respond 24/7.

Police also hope having the chopper in the sky more often will reduce a "3am spike" in offending, that occurs partly because some criminals know the helicopter isn't available.

Prime Minister Bill English last month used his State of the Nation speech to announce a $503 million policy to provide 880 extra police officers, 500 of them on the beat.

The investment package included more money for the Police Eagle helicopter.

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Police at the scene where a high speed chase ended in Jane Cowie Ave, Otahuhu. Photo / Bradley Ambrose
Police at the scene where a high speed chase ended in Jane Cowie Ave, Otahuhu. Photo / Bradley Ambrose

The Eagle is currently only available at pre-scheduled times, with about 1800 budgeted flying hours annually.

The new funding will see a 1500 hours increase and means the helicopter is available 24/7, with a 10-15 minute response time.
A Cabinet paper on the changes states the Eagle helicopter acts as a deterrent to crime, and when involved in vehicle pursuits cuts the risk of serious injury from 11 per cent to 2 per cent.

"Having Eagle available 24/7 will reduce the 3am spike in criminal offending in Auckland, where some offenders know that Eagle is no longer available," the paper states.

Police Minister Paula Bennett said getting the helicopter in the air more often would have significant benefits.

"With Auckland's busy transport network and high traffic flow, Eagle provides the ability to track offenders from the air during fleeing driver situations and can provide oversight throughout the incident.

"This is one of a number of ways to deal with fleeing drivers. It won't be available in all situations but I'm confident that when it is used it will be valuable."

Police have also had new performance targets set, to be met by 2022. They are:

• Attend at least 98 per cent of burglaries within 48 hours, up from the current rate of 86 per cent.

• Have 95 per cent of New Zealanders live within 25km of a 24/7 Police base, up from the current 88 per cent coverage.

• Seize $400 million in cash and assets from criminal gangs and organised crime over the next four years ($230m was seized in the past four years).

• Achieve a one-minute faster median response time in urban and rural areas (current median times are 7 minutes and 52 seconds in urban areas, and 13 minutes and 7 seconds in rural communities).