Armed police calls 'scaremongering'

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 09:20 28/12/2012

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Claims policing is becoming more dangerous are a bid to create unjustified public fear a lobby group says.

The rate of assault per sworn police officer had barely changed over the past decade, Rethinking Crime and Punishment director Kim Workman said today.

The Police Association has called again for police to be armed after four attacks on officers over Christmas.

Police Association vice-president Luke Shadbolt said the incidents had emphasised the increasing danger faced by staff.

"Increasingly, members are calling for general arming. And we know, amongst the staff ... more and more are leaning toward general arming as well," Shadbolt said.

But Workman said the call to arm police was "a calculated attempt to create unjustified public fear".

He said incident-driven policy change was a political tactic used by the association to portray policing as dangerous.

That was the only way it could justify the general arming of police.

Workman said the last time it happened was in February 2010, when there were three serious assaults on police in a week.

"It was quickly followed by the police union claiming that the public had lost respect for the police, and that such assaults were on the increase," he said.

"None of that was true - general public confidence in the police is very high, and the rate of assault per sworn police officer has barely changed over the last 10 years."

He said New Zealand - along with England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia - had a history of policing by consent in which the public trusted and respected the police, who were expected to do their duty without using firearms.

In return, police could expect public support for the firm management of people who breached the law, and for the introduction of laws which helped police do their job.

"If the public is serious about that, then it should vigorously protest against the Government's liberal approach to liquor law reform" Workman said.

"At least two of the more recent incidents might have been avoided by raising the drinking age, and increasing the price of alcohol."

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