More officers needed for South Canterbury, Labour says
South Canterbury may not reap the full benefits of a recently announced boost to police numbers, with Labour's police spokesman raising concerns about under-resourcing and increasingly complex crime in the region.
The Government recently announced it would add 70 frontline police staff to Canterbury as part of a $503 million staffing package.
However, the number of new officers based in South Canterbury remains unclear.
During a visit to Timaru on Thursday, Labour police spokesman Stuart Nash said the proposal did not offer enough police staff for the region or the country.
"The type of crime police are dealing with has changed ... police are being asked to deal with increasingly complex cases with the same resources."
Nash was concerned parts of rural and provincial New Zealand could miss out on additional officers.
"Policing across the country is under-resourced."
Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin had previously said the region struggled to attract staff.
Nash advocated for community policing and prevention first, but said police needed to be based in rural communities for it to be successful.
Police had initially requested 1165 new frontline police officers nationwide, he said.
The Government's package would provide 880 new officers.
That represented a more than a 20 per cent shortfall, he said.
Labour's Rangitata candidate Jo Luxton likened the current staffing issues to a school's teacher-to-child ratio.
"This many teachers to this many children might look good on paper, but in practicality, it isn't [enough]."
National's newly announced Rangitata candidate Andrew Falloon said any new officers would make a difference to the electorate.
Falloon said the Government had done a "great job" improving police staff numbers.
"I'd really be hoping that a decent chunk of those 70 end up in places like Timaru and Ashburton.
"I think the police do a fantastic job ... but there's always more we can do and 70 more police [officer] in Canterbury will go a long way."