New Police Minister Chris Hipkins admits more needed to tackle crime, but tough talk won't work

Aotearoa's new Police Minister Chris Hipkins admits more needs to be done when it comes to tackling crime but says the tough-on-crime rhetoric doesn't work.

That's despite the fact he replaced Poto Williams over mounting criticism that she was too soft.

Tuesday marked Hipkins' first day as Police Minister, visiting Silverstream School to check out the new classrooms built with Government funding.

The Education and now Police Minister even got a grilling from students.

"Do I like my job? I love my job. And every now and then the Prime Minister tries to take it off me, and I have to have a conversation with her about it."

The Prime Minister didn't take Education off Hipkins in Monday's reshuffle, but she did throw him an extra portfolio.

"Look I enjoy a challenge, I enjoy doing some new things."

Hipkins takes over from Williams, who was facing increasing criticism that she was too soft on crime amid a wave of ram raids and gang turf wars.

Police Association president Chris Cahill told Newshub that it was an obvious move.

"The reality was, it was all becoming about the Minister, rather than the actions around policing, so I think the need for change was obvious."

The Government's hoping Hipkins can turn that around. But the new Minister's not interested in the 'tough on crime' debate.

"I'm far more interested in solutions that work than rhetoric.

"We need to get serious about the causes of crime, as much as we are about punishing after the fact," Hipkins said.

"If his initial response was to say that he doesn't want to be seen he's tough on crime, then it doesn't seem like he's had a very good start," National's police spokesperson Mark Mitchell said.

But with issues like poverty, school attendance, and engagement - there's no quick fix.

"They're not problems going to be solved overnight, but it's good to have a focus on them," Cahill told Newshub.

Hipkins is a safe and senior pair of hands and by putting him in the role, the Government's showing it's clearly focused on tackling crime.

But Hipkins will need to listen to what the police need, and that starts tomorrow when he meets with the Police Commissioner.