Planned cuts to non-sworn police staff could make it
harder for the public to report crime in the Southern district,
MP David Clark says.
Yesterday, the Otago Daily Times reported some non-sworn jobs
were likely to be cut as part of a national campaign dubbed
Support staff at Otago and Southland police stations received
letters this week advising them of the changes, which has
concerned the Dunedin North MP.
"It does seem that this kind of move is either mischievous or
stupid ... and it is deeply ironic that this is under the
banner of Policing Excellence," he said.
He was concerned by a plan to cut the receptionist role at
the Dunedin North station,"effectively closing the station to
the public", while Dunedin South would be cut to a part-time
Those moves would force public inquiries to the Dunedin
Central Police Station, where staff were already dealing with
a backlog of cases and had issues with queues and parking
spaces, he said.
In addition, the district's headquarters lacked adequate
resources to deal with front counter inquiries, and this led
to people leaving without filing a complaint, Mr Clark said.
"If reported crime rates drop the most likely reason is
because reporting is dropping, not crime is dropping."
Police officers worked hard on behalf of the community, and
"I know that privately they are very frustrated with what is
being termed efficiencies but what in effect are reductions
in the level of services to the public", he said.
Dunedin Clutha area commander, Inspector Greg Sparrow
stressed no police stations would be closed as part of the
He said in recent years there had been a shift to remote
reporting of crime via telephone or internet, while a large
percentage of reports to the public counter concerned lost
and found property, or people seeking advice.
"Cases are assessed and prioritised and take into account the
vulnerability of the victim, the nature, seriousness and
immediacy of the offence, what evidence is available,
including forensic, and any other leads that may identify the
"If there are no leads then the file is either filed or
inactivated pending any further information that may come to
light at a later date."
Police welcomed feedback from the public about any concern
they had over their service, he said.