Current police recruitment unable to 'achieve any desired growth', Government warned by officials 

Police have warned Mark Mitchell the agency's current recruitment is sufficient to deal with attrition but would "not enable Police to achieve any desired growth without other interventions".  

The National-New Zealand First coalition agreement includes the promise to train "no fewer than 500 new frontline police within the first two years".     

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon told Newshub on Wednesday this would be 500 extra police officers, accounting for attrition. Attrition refers to staff leaving the organisation.     

He repeated on Thursday the promise was "500 additional police officers".

But the Briefing to Incoming Minister (BIM) document provided to Mitchell, the Police Minister, last year and released publicly on Thursday shows the challenges police have with regard to staff numbers and recruitment.    

Among the concerns is the ageing workforce which is likely to lead to "an overall increase in attrition during the next decade as this group retires".   

"This means Police will need to recruit more people to sustain any given staffing level agreed with Government," the briefing says.      

It says police have had challenges finding sufficient applicants for positions. While about 4000 New Zealanders apply each year to become constabulary staff, only 400 to 500 people per year are recruited "while maintaining the high recruitment standards we expect".  

"This is broadly sufficient to replace current attrition levels but would not enable Police to achieve any desired growth without other interventions."   

The challenges are "particularly noticeable" in provincial and rural areas.   

"We are continually reviewing all components of our attraction and recruitment approaches to attempt to mitigate these issues, however with current tight labour market conditions it is likely recruitment will remain a challenge."   

On Wednesday, Mitchell had to correct the record in Parliament after previously incorrectly saying in the House that the Government's promise of 500 additional officers was over three years, not two as is in the coalition agreement.   

He said his remark was meant to reflect that there were significant challenges to police recruitment.   

Mitchell said the new Government parties hadn't been fully aware of the issues with recruitment before they gained power in November 2023.   

He was aware of an Australian recruitment campaign poaching people from New Zealand, but issues around the ageing workforce were new to him when he received his BIM.   

Despite that, he said the Government was keeping the two-year promise.