The top brass have turned out at the Police College in Porirua today to mark the graduation of 1800 new recruits.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters joined Police Minister Stuart Nash and Police Commission Mike Bush for the graduation of 59 new constables of Wing 332.

Labour's coalition agreement with New Zealand First sets out the target under the law and order section: "Strive towards adding 1800 new police officers over three year and commit to a serious focus on combating organised crime and drugs."

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The target has been the subject of an ongoing political row because until recently, Nash represented the target as being additional to attrition in the force.

But Ardern began describing the target as just new recruits.

The Government has budgeted for additional police over five years.

Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters and Stuart Nash at today's graduation ceremony. Photo / Audrey Young
Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters and Stuart Nash at today's graduation ceremony. Photo / Audrey Young

Ardern, whose father Ross is a former police officer, said that growing up in a police household meant she knew first-hand that frontline officers were the heart of every neighbourhood, rural district, small town and big urban centre.

She said the increase was the largest growth in police numbers in a single year, outside of restructuring, since the police force was formed in 1886.

Peters said it was an historic moment for the coalition Government, delivering on a fundamental promise to help police focus on crime prevention and build safer and more connected communities.

Nash said Wing 332 continued a strong commitment to diversity in the police with 11 foreign-born officers who spoke 10 languages between them.

One was an Afghanistan-born woman who arrived in New Zealand as a seven year old.
He said 42 per cent of the wing were women, 15 per cent were Maori, five per cent were Pasifika and five per cent were Asian. The youngest was aged 18 and the oldest aged 40.

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Notes from the Police Minister's office says that including today's graduates, the total full-time equivalent police constabulary is 9838.

That was an increase of 1000 officers since the start of the 2017 – 18 financial year and represented an 11 per cent increase in the FTEs over that period.

The total police workforce including non-sworn staff was expected to pass 14,000 in early 2020.

The following shows where the 1825 new police from 28 training wings between October 2017 and November 2019 have been deployed:

Northland – 96
Waitematā – 213
Auckland – 196
Counties Manukau – 298
Waikato – 158
Bay of Plenty – 146
Eastern – 61
Central – 153
Wellington – 200
Tasman – 24
Canterbury – 171
Southern – 109

Total: 1825