No reallocation of local police to child abuse

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 23/06/2014

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Taranaki police area commander Inspector Blair Telford has rejected claims members of Central District-organised crime squads have been reassigned to child abuse investigations.

He says Taranaki police will continue to focus on fighting illegal drugs.

Police Association vice-president Luke Shadbolt claimed last week members of organised crime squads had been temporarily reassigned to fight child abuse.

While combating child abuse was "rightfully" high priority, the reassignment of staff could allow gangs and criminals to take advantage, he said.

He believed staff affected by such changes were in Central District, Eastern District, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

Telford responded saying that while some police districts had temporarily reassigned a small number of their investigative staff to respond to an increased demand for child abuse investigations, this was not the case in the Taranaki region or the wider Central District.

"The New Plymouth Organised Crime group [who investigate drug offending] in Taranaki currently has one vacancy due to a recent retirement.

"There is also a staff member temporarily assisting the inquiry team into the missing person in Opunake," Telford said.

Taranaki had a full complement of staff in its adult sexual assault and child protection team, Telford said.

"That said, police district commanders continuously manage their resources to achieve the right balance across a wide range of areas, which is part of normal business practice.

"This from time to time may mean that investigative resources are temporarily reallocated to areas where there is a higher demand."

There are three organised crime units in Central District, based in Palmerston North, Whanganui and New Plymouth.

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