A Bay of Plenty dairy owner who has twice been the victim of armed robberies would like to see more police officers on the beat.
According to police figures released to the Labour Party under the Official Information Act this week, the Bay of Plenty had 244 general duties constables as of April this year - a drop of 13 on July 2009. Nationally, there was an almost 18 per cent decline.
The figures are disputed by Police Minister Michael Woodhouse, who last night said frontline and overall police numbers had increased.
But Katikati's Park Rd Dairy co-owner and stabbing victim Ramandeep Singh said there should be an increase in the number of Bay of Plenty police officers.
In March 2012, Mr Singh was attacked while working at the dairy when a man entered, stabbed him more than 10 times and robbed the store. Three months later, Mr Singh was victim of another armed robbery.
Labour's police spokesman Kelvin Davis said the number of constables on the beat had fallen over the past six years in all but one of the country's 12 police districts.
"The number of general duties constables now stands at 2593 this year, a drop of almost 18 per cent since 2009."
He said it was "a terrible indictment of a Government that talked the talk on police numbers but had allowed the number of constables handling crime and complaints to fall year after year.
"In Northland alone, the number of general duties constables has tumbled from 140 in 2009 to just 113."
Across the country, high-volume crimes such as burglaries had a low resolution rate, he said.
"Despite this, funding for the police in the Budget was reduced by a whopping $15.3 million.
"Police say they want a higher presence in New Zealand communities, yet there is no money or staff to increase foot patrols."
Mr Woodhouse said Mr Davis was "either being tricky or is utterly confused ... either way, his comments are untrue".
Mr Woodhouse said frontline and overall police numbers had increased under the National-led Government.
"Our communities are safer as a result," he said.
"There are now more police on the beat, and more foot patrols, than ever before."
Mr Woodhouse added Budget 2015 included more than $1.5 billion to continue support and invest in police.
New Zealand Police would not comment on the numbers, saying it was "a political matter".