New retail crime unit has 'about eight' cops in it, Police Commissioner and Minister reveal

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster and Minister Ginny Andersen have revealed the National Retail Investigation Support Unit is made up of "about eight" officers.

The unit was established just over a year ago "to address patterns of high-priority repeat retail offending across the country".

Since its inception, 1241 charges had been laid against 195 offenders, Andersen said on Thursday.

However, retail crime continued to plague New Zealand. On Wednesday, Foodstuffs - the parent company of supermarket giants New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square - said crime in its stores had increased by 38.2 percent between February and April. 

During a Justice Select Committee on Thursday, the National Party's Police spokesperson Mark Mitchell asked Andersen what was going wrong when it came to retail crime.

"I fully acknowledge and I'm on the record saying that it is unacceptable the level of retail crime we are currently seeing in New Zealand, and I think those retailers and their staff are put in some absolutely unbelievable situations," Andersen said.

"It's for that reason that we've established a specific unit - we have a National Retail Crime Investigation Support Unit and they are doing a great job. So one of the advantages of having a dedicated unit… is it operates across boundaries."

Mitchell also asked Andersen how many officers were in the unit, a question she consulted Police Commissioner Andrew Coster on - who was appearing before the Select Committee alongside her.

"[It's] about eight people," Coster said. "Just bearing in mind what they're doing - they're pulling together the cases in a way where they can be investigated en masse.

"They've initiated the prosecution of 200 people for 1200 offences."