Big cuts in Canty police force feared
Canterbury could face a significant reduction in police numbers in the next two years as the department comes under budget pressure, the police association says.
A Police National Headquarters spokesman said yesterday all three South Island districts were above their current staff budget allocation, which was why current recruits were going to the North Island.
However, suggestions there was a freeze on replacing roles in the South Island was "absolutely not the case".
Police Association president Greg O'Connor said he understood there was a no-replacement policy and that no new recruits would be deployed to the South Island in the next two years while the police budget remained capped.
Canterbury could be affected more because it had a higher turnover rate than elsewhere in the South Island, with the implications of that being "a huge worry", he said.
O'Connor said that nationally about 300 police left their roles each year.
"Already the southern district is carrying a large number of vacancies that haven't been filled."
Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush said police were constantly assessing resourcing needs in each police district.
Whether vacant roles were filled in any district was "based on demand".
"We will go through this process again next year and there are no assumptions made about what this will mean," he said.
"If this future assessment requires change in resourcing then this will be achieved through attrition and strategic recruitment, not movement of existing staff."
Yesterday, Police Minister Anne Tolley scotched claims by Labour's police spokesman, Kris Faafoi, that the Government planned to restructure between 200 and 300 South Island police positions to the North Island.
Faafoi said he heard from "three sources", which he refused to name, about plans to move jobs.
Faafoi said National promised in 2008 to ensure a ratio of one police officer to every 500 people, but the ratio in the South Island was now one to 573.
" [Under] budget pressures, the Government is forcing police to make cuts that could put public safety at risk," he said.
Tolley said Faafoi was "scaremongering".
"I have been assured there are no such plans to move staff," she said. "There have been no discussions with me about such a scenario."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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