Police in focus as Labour promises 1000 extra officers


Law and order will be front and centre at next year's election, with both Labour and National promising more frontline police to help fight rising crime.

Labour has announced it would hire 1000 more police officers in its first term of Government and provide an extra $180m a year in funding.

Leader Andrew Little announced the policy on Thursday at the 81st Police Association Conference in Wellington.

National is expected to make a similar announcement, with Police Minister Judith Collins saying on Wednesday that a boost in numbers was imminent but she "would never let anything slip without the Prime Minister".

Labour's policy would lift the total number of officers to 10,000. Mr Little says this would bring the police-to-population ratio back to below the international benchmark of 1 to 500, from the current ratio of one officer to every 528 New Zealanders.

The additional officers would be prioritised to investigations of invasive and violent offences like assaults, sexual assaults, burglaries, and robberies, and "the scourge that is methamphetamine", Labour says.

The policy will likely strike a chord with voters in the upcoming Mt Roskill by-election - with crime one of the major issues in the area.

In the Auckland West police district, which includes the Mt Roskill electorate, there has been a 166 percent increase in robberies since 2014, a 14 percent increase in assaults and a 17 percent rise in thefts.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation as MP of Auckland mayor-elect Phil Goff.

Labour's promise of new police officers echoes calls from the new Police Association president Chris Cahill, who said on Wednesday that 1000 extra officers would be needed in order for police to do their job properly.

Labour's figures show that nationwide, burglaries are up 32 percent since August 2014, assaults are up 8 percent, thefts are up 3 percent and robberies are up 66 percent.

Mr Little said the blame for these increases "lies with a Government that has frozen police numbers and hasn't kept up with our growing population".

"Since National came to office, population growth and inflation have added a total of 25 percent to police costs. But the police budget has only gone up 14 percent."

A biennial Police Association survey found that nearly three-quarters of members are dissatisfied with the number of front line police, and 86 percent of members believed that front line police are under resourced.

The 2016 Police Workplace survey said 55 percent of police had an unacceptable level of workplace stress.

Police in focus as Labour promises 1000 extra officers