Limited staff closes station
The Motueka police station has had to close its doors to the public during usual opening hours on about eight occasions over the past four weeks.
The longest was from 8am to 10am last Friday, when there were three staff rostered on. But one was in court, another did not begin until 10am and the remaining staff member, an administrative worker, was alone at the station.
Motueka station sergeant Rob Crawford said the closure was because of a rostering issue that meant Motueka had "limited staff available but we were being covered by Nelson".
He said rostering, which had previously been done by the Motueka sergeant, had been taken over by a "workforce management team" and that the new process had some teething issues.
"It is something we hope to iron out in the future."
He said the closures had usually been for around 30 or 45 minutes, some of them which he had been able to plan for, such as Friday's two-hour closure, and others that were unscheduled, such as when an officer had been called out on an incident.
The front counter is usually open from 8am till 4pm, Monday through Friday, and there is a telephone outside the front door.
Crawford said that as far as he knew, Motueka police had not yet been in the position of being unable to respond to an incident because the station's doors had been closed.
Nelson Bays Police Area Commander Inspector Steve Greally said it was "very, very unusual for the station to have to have been closed" for that period last Friday. He said the front counter closure was for the protection of the staff member who was alone and the front counter area would be made more secure.
Last December, Nelson Bays police announced that the Motueka station was to be staffed 24 hours a day. The station is currently staffed from 8am till 4am on Friday and Saturday and from 8am to 1am the rest of the week. Crawford said the 24-hour schedule had not yet taken effect and they were still in the consultation process about the change.
Greally emphasised that the 24-hour staffing plan, which he expected to be in effect by about the end of April, did not mean the front counter would be open 24 hours but that staff would be on active duty rather than on call, as they were now after 4am on weekends and 1am on weeknights.
He said "there will never be less staff working in Motueka" than there are currently and that a dedicated response staff, 24/7, "will enable us to have two officers available to respond to priority-one events in Motueka at any hour of the day or night".
He said as well as providing "top-grade" service to Motueka, he had to consider the safety of his staff.
"I believe it is a safe roster but there are a couple of things we still need to work out."
Greally said: "The station is the last place I want to see my staff. I want them out on the street doing crime prevention work."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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