Police recruitment numbers falling well short of Government promise

The Government needs to get cracking if it wants to make good on its promise of 1800 new police officers this term.

Newshub can reveal just 329 new officers have been added to the force in the first year.

The police force is seeing hundreds leave their jobs every year.

"Police staff were telling us they've had enough," Police Association President Chris Cahill told Newshub.

"They can't handle the extra overtime they were doing."

Police Minister Stuart Nash's promise is to strive for 1800 new police officers - that's on top of those who are leaving.

"Not only was this a coalition promise that New Zealand First and Labour signed up to, it's also about meeting the expectations of our community."

So one year in, how are they tracking?

Police recruitment numbers falling well short of Government promise
Photo credit: Newshub.

If you count from November 1, 2017 - just after the Government took office - until November 1, 2018, police numbers increased by just 329.

The Police Minister insists that number is much higher, closer to 450 - but he's backdating to June, when National was still in power.

Either way, it's well off-track for hitting the 1800 target.

"In the last year, they've added only 329 new police to the force," says National spokesperson for Police Chris Bishop.

"So if you extrapolate that out over the next three years, they're going to hit about 1000."

Minister Nash says the plan is to reduce the number of police leaving and ramp up those being trained, and new police are graduating all the time - including 80 more this month.

"I think we can get to 1100 or 1200 next year," he says.

But Mr Bishop says he's dreaming: "They said they'd do 1800. They're miles away."

The Police Minister insists he believes they can get there - but he's already doing damage control, just in case they can't.

"I've always said it's an aspirational target," he told Newshub.

The 1800 police officers was New Zealand First's idea, and a major coalition win for them - Labour originally wanted just 1000.

Labour's target seems possible, but that 1800 is looking a long way off.