Police 'despair' at freeze

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2014

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Budget 2014

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Crime and justice agencies are some of the biggest losers in Budget 2014, with about $200 million plundered from funding.

The Department of Corrections will lose almost $100m, despite a Government target to slash re-offending by 2017.

The police budget has been frozen at $1.5 billion for the fourth year in a row, an effective $40m cut when inflation is taken into account.

The courts system has $31m less to play with next year and the Justice Ministry's budget has taken a $28m hit.

The Serious Fraud Office gets a $1.8b cut, after a temporary cash boost last year.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the freeze would make policing harder. "We are no longer frozen, we are going backwards," he said.

Cuts were occurring across the board, in road policing, prevention and response times, while costs rose.

He also pointed to cuts in civilian staff.

"These are the services that matter to the public. Delivering them to the standards New Zealanders deserve is already hard enough. These cuts can only make it harder," O'Connor said.

"Every manager in police will be looking at this Budget with despair and wondering just what more they can do to make ends meet."

He warned of a risk of failure, if officers can't get to an incident on time. The Government aims to cut total crime by 25 per cent by 2017.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said the force was targeting resources on crime prevention and frontline policing.

She credits intelligence gathering and "smarter" deployment for a 20 per cent fall in crime over four years, although this mirrors a global trend.

In Vote courts there is $2.7m less for judges and allowances, and $3.8m less for professional and administration services.

In Corrections, fewer project expenses are expected to be incurred next year for the construction of Wiri prison. Extra money was included in last year's Budget to account for the Spring Hill riot and the Canterbury earthquakes.

In justice, the legal aid budget comes down by about $14m as cost-cutting measures kick in. 

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