National accuses Labour of letting criminals operate with impunity as assaults on police rise

The National Party has accused the Government of creating an environment where criminals can operate with impunity.

National's police spokesperson Mark Mitchell says six police officers were assaulted every day last year - an increase of nearly 30 percent on 2018.

Former dog handler Tony Feasey quit the police in 2019 - asking himself tough questions, daily.

"What is today going to bring? Am I going to get assaulted, will I go home at the end of the day to see my wife and kids or my friends, my family... it's just a lottery at the moment," he told Newshub.

He said for nearly 30 years it was a great job but in the dog section he ended up being assaulted almost daily - especially when drugs like P made offenders feel invincible.

"Caught an offender from a car chase and a burglary. We ended up in the Otara Creek fighting with him, he had the dog on his arm and he told me to come get my dog and he'd kill it," he said.

"We then ended up in a fight and he's trying to drown the dog and he's trying to drown myself and it ended up taking four police officers to apprehend him and put him into cuffs."

National's released figures showing 2201 police were assaulted last year - an increase of 29 percent on 2018. That's 47 pages, 9000 offences relating to assault on police since Labour took power in 2017.

"It's become the norm it's become acceptable when it's not really," Feasey said.

National's police spokesperson Mark Mitchell said the Government's created the circumstances for criminals to operate with impunity by being soft on crime.

"So we've ended up with this terrible situation with a very permissive environment out there where these criminals, hardened criminals, gang members and youth offenders think they've got a licence to go out there and assault our police officers and members of the public," he said.

Superintendent Dave Greig said police increasingly face threats from those willing to use greater levels of violence against police, and others and last year they launched the Tactical Response Model. It provides greater training for frontline staff in high-risk situations, with a focus on high-end organised crime.

Police Minister Chris Hipkins said he utterly rejects what he calls National's "talking tough" stance.

He said: "National has a nasty habit of talking big in Opposition and failing to act when in Government. You just can't trust them."

"They're frustrated and I've never seen police officers come forward and identify themselves public to say they're under, you know they're being stretched to breaking point," Mitchell said.

Expect more on this as the election campaign heats up.