Wellington, Tuesday, February 7, 2017
New Zealand has been ranked the fourth-safest country in the world.
Like you, I want to make it number one.
That is why last week, Police Minister Paula Bennett and I announced a new $503 million Safer Communities package to reduce crime, prevent reoffending and make our communities safer.
Our package will deliver 1125 more police staff over four years, including 880 sworn police officers. That is a 10% increase and will bring the total number of Police staff to more than 13,000.
The first recruits will begin training in July and hit the beat in November.
We have listened to the concerns of Indian communities across the country, who have told us they are scared and worried about their safety.
The package shows we are prepared to invest up front in programmes that deliver results and will make our communities safer.
We are unashamedly targeting offenders to ensure that they are off our streets by providing additional resources for Police to resolve more crime and target criminal gangs and organised crime, as well as greater investment in crime prevention.
We have set Police the target of attending at least 98% of all home burglaries within 48 hours. They currently attend 96%, 86% of those within 48 hours.
Our focus on burglaries reflects a recent upturn in this crime, which can be invasive and disturbing. We want to prevent these burglaries, capture those responsible and hold them to account.
Here’s a surprising fact: The most common age of an apprehended burglar last year was 16 years old. That’s why our package will enable Police to put more time, effort and resources into working alongside other agencies with at-risk individuals and communities. We recognise we must intervene more effectively to stop young people offending and prevent them moving on to even more serious crime.
The package also provides $7.5 million for 20 ethnic liaison officers who will work with Chinese and other ethnic communities and businesses to stop crime in these communities.
Other highlights include a new national 24/7 phone number for non-emergencies like reporting a historic or low-level crime, or to get in contact with a police officer in your local area.
The Auckland-based Eagle Helicopter will now be available around the clock with a response time of 10-15 minutes. Currently, there is a 3 am spike in criminal offending in Auckland, when the Eagle Helicopter stops operating. It will now be funded to run 24/7, 365 days of the year and can be deployed anywhere in New Zealand.
There will be also an extra 80 officers to target organised crime, gangs and methamphetamine.
These extra Police will ensure that 95% of New Zealanders live within 25 kilometres of a 24/7 police presence.
All of this is additional to last year’s $300 million funding boost to support Police and the good work they do preventing crime. This, together with our three-strikes policy, which ensures the worst repeat criminals receive the maximum allowable sentence with no parole, demonstrates how committed we are to keeping you and your family safe.
We’ve also increased frontline policing by half a million hours a year by investing in new technology – that’s equivalent to around 350 more Police out and about protecting New Zealand’s communities.
We are here to make a difference. Investing more in Police will make our communities safer. It will reduce crime and reoffending, and help steer some of our most disadvantaged young people onto a more productive path.
That is an outcome worth investing.
Bill English is Prime Minister of New Zealand