Government won't scrap policing by consent - Mark Mitchell

The Government says it won't scrap policing by consent, with new Police Minister Mark Mitchell denying the National Party had plans to get rid of it. 

This week, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has insisted he and Mitchell were on the same page. That came after Mitchell gave Coster a list of expectations. 

Mitchell's list said the National-ACT-NZ First coalition expected police to use the full force of the law against gangs and youth offenders. 

The coalition parties campaigned on cracking down on crime, with National promising 300 additional police officers in the next four years as well as scrapping Labour's "policing by consent philosophy", which Mitchell before the election deemed a "failure". 

National said the party wanted to encourage a "back-to-basics policing model". 

Asked on Newshub Late on Thursday if the Government was really getting rid of policing by consent, Mitchell said no. Rather, he said the coalition was scrapping Labour's version of it

"We never said we were scrapping any policing by consent; we said that Labour had... somehow adopted their own perverse approach to policing by consent," he said. 

"That, quite simply, was creating an environment where it's very permissive, for example, organised crime and gangs to go out there and do what they want to do and act as if they've got complete impunity." 

In 2020, when Labour was re-elected, Coster defined policing by consent, in a briefing to incoming Police Minister Poto Williams, as working "alongside and with the broad support of the communities we ourselves come from, in order to be effective".  

Andersen and Mitchell.
Police Minister Mark Mitchell and his predecessor, Labour's Ginny Andersen. Photo credit: AM

In Mitchell's view, policing by consent was about "maintaining public confidence". 

"I think that there's a big opportunity sitting in front of us now in terms of going out there, starting to tackle these gangs who feel they can operate with impunity, take over our towns," he said.  

"The best way to police the public that you serve - and have consent to police the public that you serve - is by maintaining their confidence and it's very important that we do that." 

A survey earlier this year found trust in the police was at 69 percent in 2022 - down 5 percent from the previous Ministry of Justice and Victims Survey.  

Coster said on Thursday he'd work with Mitchell and "be responsive to his priorities".

"We're on the same page so it's not really a question that I'm concerned about."