Northland's stretched thin blue line is to be boosted with an extra 66 police while three stations will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The new officers will be phased in over the next four years with Kaitaia the first to get 24-hour police cover, starting in 2017-18.

Kerikeri or Kaikohe - a final decision has yet to be made - will go 24/7 in 2018-19 and Dargaville in 2019-20.

The boost was announced yesterday by Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who said decisions about exactly where Northland's new cops will be based will be left to Northland district commander Russell Le Prou.


Northland has the biggest percentage increase in the country, with 66 extra staff making a 19 per cent jump from the current 347. The next biggest increases, 16 per cent, are in Waikato and Eastern districts with 101 and 68 new staff, respectively.

The Government's commitment comes amid concerns that the thin blue line was being stretched to breaking point, especially in the rural Mid and Far North.

Over the past year a series of homicides has put pressure on staff and budgets, stations such as Paihia and Kawakawa have been downgraded, and the Police Association claimed Northland had the worst police shortage in the country with some officers ready to "fall over" from stress and long hours.

An incident in Kaikohe last month in which teenage boys raided a liquor store and tried to smash their way into a service station focused national attention on youth crime and police numbers.

Kaikohe Community Watch founder Tony Taylor said the boost was a step in the right direction and showed the Government, minister and commissioner had listened to public and police concerns.

"But a 24-hour station needs to happen now. We're still in the situation where police knock off at 2 or 3am and there's no one around."

He vowed to keep up the pressure until the town's frontline police had the numbers they needed.

Mr Le Prou said the staffing boost was great news for the Northland community.


"I'm sure it will offer them some reassurance," he said.

The region had been allocated 20 constables in the first year. Decisions about where they would be based would be made in coming weeks.

The first 80 new recruits would start at police college in July and graduate in October.

Mr Bush said the Government's $503 million Safer Communities package, to be spread over four years, also included setting up a single non-emergency number, a new crime-reporting line, 12 mobile police stations, 20 extra ethnic liaison staff and 24/7 operation of the Eagle helicopter.

"All of this makes police more accessible and more visible so that we can be where people need us, when they need us," Mr Bush said.

National's Northland candidate, former police officer Matt King, said policing was one of the region's biggest issues and the boost couldn't come soon enough.

"I'm over the moon," he said.

Northland MP and NZ First leader Winston Peters, however, said the increase did not make up for eight years of cuts to police resources and numbers. Just last week he produced figures showing a drop in the number of police on duty daily at Kaikohe, Kerikeri and Kaitaia since January 1.

"We needed these promised recruits not some time in the future but in the last eight years. Instead Police Ministers have given us spin, a catch-and-release policy and less than 4 per cent burglary resolution rate."

Northland police have already started a recruiting drive and are keen to sign up locals who understand the region and "Northland-style" policing. As of March 30 more than 260 people had registered interest at events such as Waitangi Day and Dargaville Field Days.

Nationwide an extra 1125 police, of whom 880 will be frontline officers, will be recruited.

Currently Whangarei has the only 24-hour police station in Northland.