Police mull charging for services

Last updated 10:35 11/12/2012

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Police are proposing to charge for some of their services.

A public consultation document released today proposes charging when police are asked to vet people - for instance for employment.

Mike Webb, acting general manager of police strategy, policy and performance, said the proposal would not affect the core services provided by police, which would continue to be provided free of charge to any person.

He gave a reassurance that police would not charge for services where that may impact on public safety.

But he said New Zealand was one of the few modern police forces that did not already have a cost recovery system in place.

"This is not a new idea; a number of government agencies already recover the costs of providing certain services, as do police in other jurisdictions," Webb said.

"Cost recovery for certain police services will enable police to focus its resources on front line services and preventing crime."

The vetting fee would be set at a level that was reasonable and encouraged and assisted organisations to undertake police checks, Webb said.

Some fee exemptions may be considered, for example for registered charities.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said police were proposing "a pretty moderate sort of charge" of about $5 to $7 to vet an application.

They were also proposing a steeper express charge for businesses prepared to pay for a faster service.

She acknowledged the concern that voluntary organisations in particular would not do police checks on prospective volunteers and employees because of the charge.

"That's the concern we have. That is certainly the issue I'm looking at.  We have discussed it with some community groups."

Questions had also arisen over whether police should charge for other services like security at big events like rugby matches or concerts, but that was ruled out.

"We've certainly had some discussions around that and in essence we've decided that the public good outweighs any private benefit. You always want to maintain the status of the police."

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