Police number claims 'complete rubbish' - Collins

Judith Collins is rubbishing Labour's claims the previous Government didn't put more cops on the beat.

Newly inducted Police Minister Stuart Nash made the claim earlier this week.

"That's complete rubbish," Ms Collins - a former Police Minister - told The AM Show on Friday.

"I think Stuart was probably out of Parliament when we brought in 600 extra frontline police, 300 into Counties Manukau policing district - in other words, south Auckland - and the other 300 around the country. Six-hundred more police we delivered, over nine years."

Ms Collins said she's owed an apology from Mr Nash.

"He should actually ring me and apologise. He's got my number."

Mr Nash may have been referring to the police-public ratio, which fell over the nine years National was in power. In 2008 there was one police officer for every 488 Kiwis, but by last year it had fallen to one for every 526 - despite growing demand.

"They effectively froze police staffing for nine years," Labour's Phil Twyford, appearing alongside Ms Collins, said.

During the election campaign, National promised 1100 more police staff, including 880 extra officers. The new Government is aiming for 1800 new sworn officers over the next three years. Ms Collins doubts it can be done.

"Where are you going to get them from? We've got the lowest unemployment we've had for years," she said, before turning to Mr Twford and saying: "You don't like foreigners so you can't bring them in, so what are you going to do?"

Mr Twyford said the Government would be looking to recruit from overseas.

The new Government has also moved to undo some of National's law and order initiatives, such as the three-strikes rule and crushing boy racers' cars.

Ms Collins, who earned the nickname 'Crusher' over her enthusiasm for the latter, said despite the headlines the policy generated,  only three cars were ever crushed. One of them ended up in Auckland's Museum of Transport and Technology.

"The point was never about crushing - it was always about stopping the boy racing, and I tell you what, it's been a huge success."

She said it was a "huge success", as has been the three strikes law - but Mr Twyford disagreed with both, calling the policies "utterly discredited".

"This is what's wrong with the National Party's law and order policy - it's about crushing cars, three strikes and boot camps - all policies that don't work. They're all for show."

Figures show the number of sentences handed out by the courts have been declining since 2010, but prison sentences have remained relatively static.