Jury still out on police restructure - union

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 12:56 11/02/2013
GREG O'CONNOR
DAVID ALEXANDER/The Press
JURY OUT: Police Association president Greg O'Connor.

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The jury is ''still out'' on whether a restructure of Canterbury's police department will work, Police Association president Greg O'Connor says. 

The 'prevention-first' model is based on a Counties Manukau trail in 2008 which involved 300 additional staff. 

However, it was implemented in Canterbury using existing staff numbers. 

O'Connor said the association supported well-thought out change, but using only existing numbers would create a strain.

While no sworn Canterbury police staff lost jobs under the restructure, job cuts are planned over the next three years and a freeze on new recruits is in place in order to meet stringent budget caps.

The Canterbury police budget was slashed by $2.2 million last year. 

The district was currently about 18 staff over its allocation as a result of 50 additional officers being assigned to Canterbury after the February 2011 earthquake. 

The attrition rate is about 1.3 officers a year. 

O'Connor said the association would be ''watching carefully'' over the coming months to see the impact of the restructure and the job cuts. 

''It's true it [the restructure] wasn't led by financial issues per se, but when you've got to make considerable savings at the same time - they're not mutually exclusive,'' he said. 

''The jury is still out.''

Canterbury Superintendent Gary Knowles said the restructure had ''nothing to do with finances'' and the current funding would be enough to deliver the new model. 

He said reducing staff back to ''baseline'' would be a challenge but the priority was to maintain front line numbers.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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