Police changes benefit Motueka

Motueka's police station will soon be manned 24 hours a day, following a major restructuring of the Nelson Bays police force.

Police this week received confirmation of the changes, following consultation on the proposal which started several weeks ago.

Some positions have been disestablished, with the staff that held them taking up new jobs.

Nelson Bays area commander Inspector Steve Greally said the restructuring streamlined senior management roles and aimed to align policing in Nelson Bays with the new national focus on "Prevention First".

"It's about getting the right people into the right place at the right time."

Mr Greally said the need to make the most of limited financial resources in the current economic climate was also behind the changes.

The Prevention First strategy was launched a year ago. It aims to prevent crime and reduce victimisation.

Mr Greally said staff had been consulted on the changes, and their feedback had been taken into consideration.

It had been proposed to reduce the number of officers based in Wakefield from two to one, but that idea had been dropped.

Mr Greally said the two Wakefield officers did an important job, had excellent local knowledge and identified with their community.

He said that under the old structure, Nelson Bays police was divided into two parts, rural and urban.

That division had now gone.

As part of the changes, the senior sergeant position in Motueka, held by Grant Andrews, has been disestablished. The Motueka station will now be run by a sergeant.

Mr Andrews now works across the Tasman police district, which includes the West Coast and Marlborough, as road policing team leader.

Mr Greally said the Motueka station would be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so staff would always be rostered on to deal with emergencies.

Previously, it was only staffed until 4am, with two staff on call until 8am.

"The roster is about the community, it's not about the police officers."

Motueka used to have two community constable positions. This has been reduced to one, covering rural and urban Motueka.

However a new position at the station - a drugs constable attached to the CIB - has been established. Mr Greally said 30 per cent of the CIB's work related to child abuse matters, and a new child protection team, which would have a detective sergeant and three investigators, had been established.

The team would work with Child, Youth and Family. Its focus would be on preventing child abuse and responding to it. An extra constable had also been assigned to deal with family violence. Mr Greally said other measures had been taken to make police work more efficient and allow officers to be out on the front line. This included the establishment of a criminal justice support team, which would take over the processing of court files, freeing up frontline staff from getting bogged down in paperwork.

He said the restructuring was a "huge change" for policing in the Nelson Bays area, but he "firmly believed" it would set the force up well for the future.

"Change is hard sometimes, but staying stagnant will guarantee we fail . . . We are about service to the community and making sure we are effective."

He said staff were supportive of the proposal and understood the need for change.

"My staff fully understand the only thing that really matters is our community; we fall in second. We are here to serve."

In line with the police focus on Prevention First, Mr Greally said the rosters of staff in Nelson Bays would be reviewed in the future to ensure that staff were rostered on for the busiest periods, including Saturday nights.

No-one has been made redundant or demoted as a result of the restructuring.

The Nelson Mail