Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Budget 2014: Police union warns of hard year after funding trimmed

Police Minister Anne Tolley.
Police Minister Anne Tolley.

Police officers have warned "something will break" if their budget is squeezed any further after the Government sliced a little more off their funding.

Total spending on police fell slightly from $1.5 billion to $1.46 billion in 2014/15, meaning it has barely risen in five years.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said she would require the Police Commissioner to find savings within his department in order for police officers to get their annual pay rise.

Despite the five-year budget freeze, the crime rate in New Zealand has continued to fall overall, following a 20-year trend. Mrs Tolley told the Herald there was no reason to simply "chuck more money in" while targets for crime and reoffending were being met.

"You've got to have faith that police put together a budget that means they can deliver the service to New Zealanders. They've done that extremely well over the last four years."

Police Association president Greg O'Connor warned this year would be harder than the last for officers.

"The police are very heavily stretched. Police bosses ... will privately be tearing their hair out as to how the heck they are going to get through the next year."

He predicted that the first area to suffer from budget constraints was likely to be response time. Communications centres and first responders had their funding cut by 2 per cent.

The police road safety programme lost $10 million or 3.3 per cent.

Mrs Tolley said the police could access a justice sector pool of funding, which held $109 million for investments.

Labour's shadow police minister, Jacinda Ardern, noted that the police budget was so stretched last year that the force had to rely on this fund to pay for $12 million in redundancies.

The Serious Fraud Office had its funding cut by $2 million, or 20 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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