Napier MP Stuart Nash has called on the region's "top cop" Superintendent Sandra Venables to show some commitment to the region.

The Labour police spokesman said Ms Venables had "one of the most important roles in our community" as Eastern District Commander.

Mr Nash asked whether part of the problem facing the local police force at the moment stems from the fact that Ms Venables is still allegedly based in Whakatane.

"I actually think the top cop should live in the region," he said.


Police Deputy Commissioner Glenn Dunbier has come out in defence of his Superintendent, saying Ms Venables is a highly valued and respected member of the Police Executive, and is committed to serving the people of Hawke's Bay and the Eastern District.

"Notwithstanding that Mr Nash's information is incorrect, where a staff member lives is irrelevant to them doing their job effectively," he said.

"I have previously written to Mr Nash advising that Superintendent Venables is a public servant and is required to be politically neutral in her role and therefore she has no ability to respond to personal criticism by elected officials."

He said Police were available to discuss matters with Mr Nash relating to police strategy, resourcing or national policy through the appropriate channels at Police National Headquarters " not through personal attacks on individual staff members through the media.

In a letter to the editor today Mr Nash said Ms Venables seemed to have missed the point with regards to his recent concerns about the current policing strategy being implemented across Hawke's Bay.

"No one is doubting that the officers on the ground are committed to the communities they serve and work incredibly hard to keep our neighbourhood's safe," he said.

"In fact, I think they do a fantastic job under very trying circumstances."

Mr Nash said his concerns were about the strategic changes around police engagement that are taking place in Napier such as the removal of the Armed Offenders Squad from the city, a fully functional police station being replaced with a much smaller 'satellite' station and the largest drop in police on-the-beat in the country.

"This is not a reflection on the work ethic, dedication or commitment of the front line staff charged with implementing the Eastern Districts strategy, but rather the strategy itself," he said.

"Perhaps if Superintendent Venables showed a personal commitment to the region she would develop a better feel for the issues and concerns that the people of Napier and Hawke's Bay have, because at the moment it feels like a temporary stop to somewhere else."

Mr Dunbier said police in Hawke's Bay continue to remain aligned to a number of key national strategies.

"These include Prevention First, which puts victims at the heart of everything we do," he said.

"We also aim to reduce repeat offending, victimisation and fatal crashes among Maori through our Turning of the Tide initiative.

"Police are also part of the government-wide Safer Journeys strategy, launched to reduce and prevent road related trauma."