Hawke's Bay police opening hours could be slashed in cost-cutting which includes the loss of four support-staff positions.
The steps were confirmed yesterday by police Eastern District commander Superintendent Sandra Venables, announcing also that a single Hawke's Bay holding-cell block is likely to be created in Hastings as part of rationalisation aimed at meeting budget constraints.
No police officer jobs were affected by the cuts, she said, although a frontline-staff review was under way to see how resources could be used "more efficiently" and some roles might change.
The positions affected are mainly administrative with some jobs changing from full-time to part-time - 9.5 full-time equivalent positions being disestablished and replaced by 5.5.
Loss of some counter service at Napier Police station was reported in August and, yesterday, the prospect of anything other than 24/7 manning of the shop-front was immediately targeted by Hawke's Bay opposition Labour MPs Stuart Nash, Napier, and Meka Whaitiri, Ikaroa Rawhiti.
They said in a joint statement it was a "fundamental erosion of police responsibility to the community".
Mr Nash added: "This decision needs to be rethought before damage is done to the excellent reputation of the good, hard-working police men and women who keep us safe."
The latest announcements are no surprise to New Zealand Police Association vice-president and Hawke's Bay officer Luke Shadbolt, who said that with most public contact with police being by phone and "very few" going to police stations after 9pm, and with the Napier and Hastings police stations and cells now among the oldest in the country it "makes sense" to review the use of the facilities.
"Having the public counter open after 9pm," he said.
"There is now very little need for it."
Non-sworn staff had been involved in some counter services and custodial responsibilities, with some duplication of roles, he said.
Ms Venables said there was a need to "look at how many people visit our public counters, especially at night, and whether it is viable to have them open 24 hours a day".
She said the changes resulted from a directive to meet resource allocation targets (RATs) districts were set each year.
Several positions are being realigned to meet requirements of the Prevention First Strategy.
Billed when introduced in 2011 as changing the way police work with victims so they receive a better service and are less likely to become victims again, it is entering the fourth of its first five years.
Ms Venables said the district had over recent years exceeded its non-sworn staff allocation, through the setting up of new support services.
Prevention First had brought many positive changes in the way police worked with victims and the community.
The MPs worried that cuts were taking place at a time where statistics showed a year-on-year increase in crime recorded in Hawke's Bay.
Ms Whaitiri said: "If it really is about money, then we will stand beside Ms Venables and support any approach to the Police Minister in order to ensure the funds to properly service our region are available."