'More police can stop crime': Justice Minister Andrew Little defends 1800 new cops

Andrew Little has defended the Government's plan to introduce 1800 new police officers over the next three years.

The Justice Minister has wrapped up a two-day summit in Porirua, where discussions have taken place on how the Government can fix the criminal justice system. 

The key topic of discussion was skyrocketing prison numbers, which has pushed corrections' budgets up to around $1 billion every year. 

While the summit has had its critics, many have lauded it for confronting the issue of Maori overrepresentation in prisons, and come up with a solution. 

One of those solutions has been to increase police numbers, which was announced this week by Police Minister Stuart Nash. 

The wheels of action appear to be turning, but some have pointed out that more police could simply mean more arrests - and possibly even more people in prison. 

But Mr Little told The Project on Wednesday more police will prevent crime from happening. He said an advisory group will put together a package of justice reform by early next year. 

Mr Little said for too long the solution to crime has been to lock people up and throw away the key. But that needs to change, he said, because the reoffending rate is the same. 

"More police deployed the right way can actually stop crime from happening in the first place," Mr Little told The Project. 

"If [police are] in their community and connected with their community, they know who the troubled families are and they will play a big role in making sure those families get the help that they need."

He said Iwi Community Justice Panels alongside Rangatahi Courts and Pasifika Courts have been effective in finding "different and more effective responses" for younger Māori and Pasikifa offenders. 

But Mr Little admits there is "way more we can be doing, particularly for Māori offenders who are disconnected from their family or from their iwi".

A lot of the talk in the conference in Porirua has been around things the Government can do to better connect Māori and Pasifika to their families and communities.

The idea behind that is that when they come out of prison, they won't reoffend, Mr Little said. 

Police say the standard for new recruits will not be lowered to help get enough new officers on the ground.


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