Police complain of 'bullying culture'

Last updated 05:00 19/07/2014

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Napier police station has been closed to the public at night because of a shortage of staff, as unhappy officers complain of a "bullying culture".

Police management says things have improved since many of the region's officers complained that their contributions to the job were not being valued.

But an anonymous senior officer said the bully culture remained, and "if you speak out you can kiss goodbye to any advancement".

Police have been speaking with their feet, with 33 officers leaving the job in the 12 months to March this year. The attrition rate has jumped from 4.6 per cent to 7.6 per cent.

The unnamed officer said there were "holes everywhere". The Napier station had increasingly been shut overnight because there were not enough staff to tend to prisoners in the cells and watch over the front counter, he said.

The Dominion Post was told it was a "once off"' when the station closed between 10pm and 6am last year. The officer said it was now happening more and more often.

"Everyone's overworked and there seems to be no light at end of the tunnel."

Eastern district commander Superintendent Sandra Venables confirmed the station had been closed on the "odd occasion". Staff were still being deployed from the station and on "most occasions" staff were inside managing the custody area.

Automatic phones were being installed at the front of the station so the public could ring police directly.

"We are a 24-hour service and, with the benefits of increased use of technology and managing our deployment to where the demand is, we can be more accessible to the community."

Venables was brought in earlier this year to replace Sam Hoyle, who is now Wellington's district commander.

She was making positive changes to improve the region's poor performance in the workplace survey, she said. Just one-fifth of survey respondents said they felt "engaged" in the job, while 60 per cent did not feel valued for the work they did.

Venables had introduced forums to give staff the chance to express their views and offer solutions to any issues. She was talking with staff across the district each day and believed people were feeling more positive.

"I am optimistic that we are moving in the right direction."

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- The Dominion Post

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