Judith Collins hits out at Phil Goff over claims of community stations closure
Police Minister Judith Collins and the police have spoken out against claims that community stations in Auckland and the rest of the country will close, saying that is incorrect.
NZME had reported that sources within NZ Police had claimed there are plans for the 16 to at least temporarily shut their doors and that some may never re-open.
According to NZME, information provided by independent sources and also by Labour MP and Auckland Mayoral candidate Phil Goff claimed that "police may be under pressure to reduce their footprint and under pressure to close stations".
Collins quickly responded, saying that she was "really disappointed that Phil Goff is touting a false story to the media against New Zealand police".
In response to Collins, Goff told Fairfax Media that the information he was given was in good faith by members of the police force he trusts.
"All I've expected her to do is to give her personal guarantee that none of these stations' list provided to me by the police will be closed under the pretext of health and safety reviews," Goff said.
"People inside police and the New Zealand Police Association have provided me with the information and asked me to challenge what is happening."
Police have denied the community station closure saying that a new set of infrastructure design features are being introduced for safety measures at police front counters.
The new features are designed to deal with the most likely threats at publicly accessible police premises.
"Our review of existing infrastructure has highlighted a number of premises where more immediate practical steps are needed to increase security. There are 105 stations we have identified in this category around New Zealand," said Acting Assistant Commissioner District Operations, Bruce Bird.
"In some of these stations, one of the options may be to limit public access at times when constabulary staff are on the premises.
"This does not mean the stations will permanently close, but the public access at some stations may be, as an interim measure, restricted to those times when a constabulary/authorised officer is available to work at the front counter."
Bird said for "operational reasons", police will not release locations of the 105 stations affected.
"Safety of police staff, volunteers and visitors to our premises is of paramount importance and is a real priority for police.
"While many of our front counters have some of the required infrastructure design features already in place, a number of it need enhancement and/or redesign and we have a project underway to develop a consistent nationwide plan to achieve this.
Bird said some districts are also looking at community kiosks, which are only manned by volunteers, and some of these will be closed until the completion of a "more comprehensive audit" as part of the front counter safety project.
He said the project was "absolutely not about cost savings".
"It is about the safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors. We note that a police employee was recently subjected to a very violent attack in the front entrance of Counties Manukau station, so the risks to our staff are very real."
The front counter review project was announced last year in response to concerns from staff.