Planned police job cuts revealed

JONATHON HOWE
Last updated 12:00 07/11/2012

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Central Police District management considered cutting 17 sworn officer jobs in Palmerston North during an early review of the region's staffing needs.

The Manawatu Standard revealed last week a major shake-up of the Central Police District was afoot, with cuts to sworn officers looking likely in Palmerston North and New Plymouth.

The cuts will not cause job losses as they will happen by natural attrition.

However, concerns have been raised about how they might impact on the workload and capability of remaining staff.

The Standard has obtained a police memorandum, sent to Central District area commander Superintendent Russell Gibson, which outlines some of the proposed changes.

The document suggests a total of 17 sworn officer roles could be lost from the Palmerston North "super" policing area, which would include the city and rural areas.

The numbers were devised using a formula that assesses population, deprivation levels, the number and severity of open cases and calls for service.

Mr Gibson told the Standard yesterday that the document was a "starting point".

The figure for any proposed cuts was yet to be determined.

"What we've got to do is come up with another model, which recognises the community, which recognises the amount of calls for service and the type of issues they are dealing with," he said.

"There are 101 issues that we can look at and it's really just a case of trying to work it down into a sensible area so we can all quietly look at this and say ‘right let's try and apply a fair and equitable spread of our resources across the district'.

"Do I think that's going to be the final cut? No way in hell do I think that."

Mr Gibson earlier told the Standard an area like Horowhenua, which is within the Palmerston North rural area, needed extra resources.

Police Association Manawatu chairman Ashley Gurney said Mr Gibson had been upfront to date, so he had no reason to believe the document was anything more than a draft.

He didn't want to comment further until "some final figures were imposed". Mr Gurney was quick to assert Palmerston North city could not afford to lose staff.

"We're already stretched pretty thin and we're concerned that any loss of staff will mean a loss of service and some of the gains we've made in the past 10 years will not be allowed to be maintained."

The document shows the number of officers in Palmerston North city and rural areas was 270, but would drop to 253 if proposed changes were made.

The combined Taranaki area would lose seven positions, dropping from 168 to 161, while Whanganui/Ruapehu would increase by 14 to 158.

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It also shows that plans are afoot to reduce the number of officers in regional stations, with some three-person stations in Taranaki (Inglewood, Patea, Opunake) potentially becoming two-officer stations.

The two-person Ashhurst station and one-person Foxton Beach station could become Community Policing Centres, similar to the Highbury, Roslyn and Massey stations in Palmerston North, according to the document.

Mr Gibson said classifying stations Ashhurst and Foxton Beach as Community Policing Centres meant they would become satellites of bigger stations, rather than stand-alone entities.

- Manawatu Standard

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