The thin blue line is too thin, says Police Association

Chris Cahill, the new Police Association president, says resources are at breaking point in some areas.
MAARTEN HOLL/ FAIRFAX NZ

Chris Cahill, the new Police Association president, says resources are at breaking point in some areas.

Police services are spread too thinly, which is contributing to the rise in crime, says new Police Association president Chris Cahill. 

Violent crime and youth offending are up almost 10 per cent on last year, adding to an overall increase in crime of three per cent, according to the latest police annual report.

The figures are another blow to police after they were criticised in July for not attending every burglary, on the back of Statistics New Zealand's data showing the number of break-ins had risen nearly 12 per cent. 

Cahill, with a haul from a methamphetamine bust, says police are not just in the law and order sector any more.
PETER MEECHAM/ FAIRFAX NZ

Cahill, with a haul from a methamphetamine bust, says police are not just in the law and order sector any more.

"In certain places we are stretched to breaking point," Cahill said.

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"That is mostly affecting those front line staff who are going from job to job, not getting a break in ten hour shifts, and impacting on the service we want to provide."

The report outlines a major goal of the police is to make New Zealand the safest country in the world, bringing crime down 20 per cent by 2018.

New Zealand currently sits fourth on the World Atlas Global Peace Index (GPI), behind Iceland, Denmark, and Austria. 

The GPI gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarisation.

To help reach such lofty goals, police have a staff of 12,035 employees, of which 74 per cent are constabulary.

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The Warehouse, New Zealand Defence Force, Fonterra, and Fletcher Building,  each employ more people than the police.

To be the safest on the globe is a worthy one but it needs realistic resources to be realised, says Cahill, who believes the police are as much a social service, as they are law and order.  

"At the moment we have one officer to every 528 people, and we believe just to manage current workloads we need that ratio to be at least one to every 500.

"To achieve these goals we need to be even lower, and match Australia who are at one cop to every 428 people."

A police spokesman said their current "real time" operational deployment model better allows them to match staffing to meet demand, including identifying crime "hot spots" and other pressure points. 

"Police also received a further $299.2 million in the last budget to support our work on the prevention and reduction of crime.

"Like all government agencies, we are focused on working more effectively and efficiently within our existing resources – including through the use of mobile and smart technology to free up staff to spend more time on the frontline – and on making other efficiencies where we can to continue to provide a high level of service to our communities, and maintain continued high levels of public trust and confidence." 

Police answered 843,121 emergency 111 calls, six per cent more than last year, and more than 60,000 beyond their performance standard.  

"What the figures don't show is the many prevention first initiatives going on, which will hopefully have long term effects," said Cahill.

FURTHER ANNUAL REPORT FIGURES FOR 2015-16

* 23 per cent of locations experience two crimes or more within a year.

* 75 per cent of those surveyed felt safe in their neighbourhood after dark, whereas only 56 per cent felt safe in their city/town centre.

* Foot patrols are down 3 per cent on last year.

* Armed offenders squad callouts have increased 13 per cent to 959.

* Offences going through court proceedings that relate to firearms, down 49 per cent.

* 83 per cent of judges happy with police prosecutors performance.

* The number of complaints held against police has risen since 2011, and is at 357. That is 74 complaints more than last year, and 264 per cent more since 2011.

* Six people escaped while in police custody, down four from last year.

* Police are sitting on $135,000 of found money.

 - Stuff

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