There could be up to 111 fewer police on New Zealand roads this summer, a Herald inquiry has established.
The cuts stem from a $26 million dispute between the New Zealand Transport Agency and police over how much funding the agency should provide police for road safety.
Former Police Minister Judith Collins backed her department's appeal in May for extra NZTA funds but the Crown entity refused to budge.
As a result, police say they have no choice but to reassign those roading positions to other areas of policing.
"We are working through a process to reallocate road policing staff positions to focus on other crime prevention activities," said a spokeswoman.
It had not been announced when the changes would come into place.
New Minister Paula Bennett said police were looking at shifting 111 road policing staff positions to other tasks. The cuts represent an 8 per cent reduction to the current 1353 dedicated road policing positions.
Police Association president Chris Cahill said the move was further evidence of funding shortfalls.
It comes at a time when the road toll is trending up.
"We are not talking money, we are talking lives," Cahill said.
"The facts speak for themselves. When you put the traffic police on the road the toll comes down."
Labour's police spokesman Stuart Nash agreed. "We all know that more police on the road equals a lower road toll. I have never spoken to a person who says they don't slow down or instantly check their speedo when they see a police officer on the road.
"It just shows that the police are under-funded and until they get the money then New Zealanders are going to pay the price." A new imperative for police to attend all household burglaries was made by Collins after the Herald revealed more than 90 per cent of burglaries went unsolved in 2015. The initiative meant a "40 per cent" increase in work for staff with no extra funding, said Nash.
The police budget has remained relatively unchanged since 2010. It increased by 3 per cent, or the same as inflation, in the 2016/17 budget.
In August then Prime Minister John Key announced there would be a boost to officer numbers - but details of that announcement have not yet been made. "I believe that police know the value of having more staff on the roads, but they haven't got the money and they haven't got the officers, and you need to address both of those things," said Nash."
The Herald today reveals the worst places for fatal and serious accidents during the past five Christmas and New Year holiday periods, as part of a five-day series looking at ways to make driving safer.
In the past five years over the holiday period, there have been 66 fatal crashes. The data shows the most dangerous roads in that time.
When mapped geospatially, data shows these groups clustered in certain areas. Te Rapa Rd in Hamilton stands out as the most deadly, followed by the highways bordering Tauranga and the western Bay of Plenty.
The outskirts of Christchurch round out the top three holiday blackspots.
NZTA data shows the factors behind these crashes as involving loss of control, speed, alcohol, drugs and inattention.