One-person police stations will become two-person

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

Labour is committed to making all 62 one-person police stations in New Zealand two-person stations, Labour’s Law and Order spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove said today when announcing the party’s police and corrections policies.One-person police stations will become two-person

Labour is committed to making all 62 one-person police stations in New Zealand two-person stations, Labour’s Law and Order spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove said today when announcing the party’s police and corrections policies.

“This is a safety initiative both for the police and for the small communities they serve around the country,” Clayton Cosgrove said.

“Labour is deeply conscious of the safety risks police face in their jobs every day. There is no way to ensure the safety of individual officers, but that doesn’t mean governments shouldn’t do everything they can to minimise risks.

“Safety in numbers is one factor we can control,” Clayton Cosgrove said. “In the last years of Labour government we budgeted for an extra 1250 police staff, 1000 of whom were sworn staff. Those extra numbers significantly boosted police morale and safety.

“Since National came to office, however, police numbers have actually been raided in almost every district to pay for National’s election promise to put 300 extra police into South Auckland.

“Labour will leave those extra police in South Auckland, but we will restore police staffing numbers in other districts. That will mean funding an extra 145 constables in our first term, including doubling the staffing of one-person stations. That maintains Labour’s commitment to community and police safety. National has only funded 30 new constables overall in the past three years.

“Labour wants to increase the number of police still further as the fiscal situation improves, with a short-term aim of keeping pace with population growth, but a long-term goal of improving the ratio of police to population,” Clayton Cosgrove said.

“Our aim is to extend the community policing model we implemented in our last term. This means working with communities to determine the policing programmes they need to target particular crime hot spots such as youth crime, burglary and family violence.

“The focus is often on headline-grabbing crimes, but it is crime as the lower end of the criminal scale that makes far more people feel unsafe,” Clayton Cosgrove said. “That’s what ‘sweating the small stuff’ is about. Labour is determined that so-called petty crime must be treated seriously.

“It may mean needing to rethink how police resources are deployed, with greater use of non-sworn staff at crime scenes to free up constables for investigative work. We need police to be able to focus better on crime prevention and resolution.

“Few disagree that the best way to make all our communities safer is to prevent crime happening in the first place. Labour is committed to developing long-term programmes that prioritise prevention and that will endure across the short-term ‘getting tough on crime’ pressures of the electoral cycle.”

Clayton Cosgrove said Labour’s corrections policy recognised the fact that almost everyone in prison will eventually be released. “That’s why it is vital that we do all we can to minimise the risk of re-offending. It makes no sense to lock people up to keep society safe, and then to let the same people out again without having invested in trying to change their behaviour so that they don’t re-offend.

“We need programmes in every prison that promote behaviour change by addressing mental health, substance abuse, illiteracy and lack of numeracy and other basic skills,” Clayton Cosgrove said. “This is not about being soft on criminals. It is, quite selfishly, about making society safer for the rest of us who don’t offend.

“Labour will adopt a nip it in the bud approach in our prisons. Our aim will be to ‘re-wire’ and ‘re-programme’ prisoner behaviour to prevent re-offending when a prisoner is released, and we will also resource programmes that manage the integration of prisoners back into society.

“When people say to me, how can we afford to invest in such programmes, I have one simple answer: We can’t afford not to. Each prisoner costs taxpayers more than $90,000 a year. $90,000 a year multiplied by our huge prison population adds up to a heck of a lot of programmes,” Clayton Cosgrove said.

“Investing in greater community safety makes sense financially as well as in human terms.”

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