Winston Peters demands 1800 extra police
Winston Peters has laid down his first demand, the day after the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll has him holding the balance of power at next year's election.
The New Zealand First leader and Northland MP wants the number of police officers increased by 27 percent, in line with Australia's per capita ratio.
"We're looking at something like 1800-1900 officers just as a start now to get to a level where we once were, and then build upon that," he says.
"You can't do it in the space of one year, but over a period of years with the right training programmes, we'll get there.
"It has to be done because we cannot go on with the levels of lawlessness we have now," Mr Peters says.
"We have a 'P' scourge up north, we've got all sorts of things going wrong and we're not the only province."
He says it's a bottom line in any negotiations regarding the formation of the next Government, which he will decide if the latest polling figures become a reality.
National is sitting on 45.1 percent, and the Labour-Green bloc is on 44.2 percent. Neither has the numbers to govern alone without Mr Peters.
"If you want to get on top of law and order, you have to have fire power because a lot of people's businesses are being threatened by criminal behaviour," he says.
The move has been prompted by growing crime in his Northland electorate, which he says has ballooned a massive 66 percent since National took office in 2008.
Mr Peters says in 2008, there were 11,593 crimes reported and that's leaped to 19,274. He says arrests over that period have fallen from 3144 to 2735 today.
"Police data lays bare the truth about National's police neglect that is being replicated all over provincial New Zealand," he says.
"It is so bad that burglars stand a 97 percent chance of getting away with it in Northland and we must ask how many serious crimes are going unreported.
"Of Northland's 22 stations, only seven had more than a single officer on continuous duty over four consecutive Fridays and Saturdays. So for a vast area of New Zealand with some 156,000 people, we could only average 43 police on duty at 7am and again at 11pm.
"At one occasion it peaked at 67, but on another, it was only 17 on duty."
He says it's nothing less than a "welcome mat for criminality" and he's promising to fix it, regardless of which political colours he gets into bed with.
"Getting nabbed under National is more a matter of bad luck because of National's 'ghost cops' and 'ghost stations'," he says.