Police to cut jobs in South

Bob Burns.
Bob Burns.
Ten non-sworn police jobs will be cut in the South, but Southern district commander Superintendent Bob Burns maintains changes are designed to get police away from "filling out endless forms" and on to the front line.

Yesterday police confirmed job support positions would be cut from Oamaru, Balclutha, Gore and Te Anau.

In addition, six district support positions from Dunedin, Invercargill and Central Otago will be transferred to Auckland, to staff the police national 24-hour telephone reporting line.

That reporting line, already in place for most of the country, is expected to be rolled out for the Southern district in June.

Supt Burns said a new Dunedin-based centralised district file management centre, designed to relieve police of paperwork, would be created.

At present, files were "all over the place". To counter this, police were moving from labour-intensive paper files towards electronically collating data, enabling officers to enter and update information via phone or computer tablets while on the front line, he said.

Officers were spending up to two hours "filling out endless forms" on an arrest in order to get the matter to prosecutions.

"It is a lot of double-handling and it is inefficient."

The changes would help officers focus on prevention and "give us an opportunity to spend more time out of the station".

"And let's face it, [officers'] biggest gripe is about paperwork, and the biggest gripe from our community is that they don't see enough of us ... so it is going to be a win-win situation."

He acknowledged there would be "a bit of pain to get there", but the focus was delivering a better service for the public.

Staff were given a decision document this week, after three weeks of consultation.

"Some people are pretty upset, and so they should be. They have given fantastic service to an organisation and their community for a long time ... but it is the nature of restructures."

The restructuring would reduce Southern district staff from 655 staff to 645. Options for affected staff included reassignment, redeployment and voluntary severance.

He said there would no longer be a reception staff member at the North Dunedin station but officers would still be based there, while South Dunedin station hours would be reduced.

The move to the new structure was expected to be completed by March 31.

Supt Burns expected there would be an adjustment period for police, with job losses and the technological changes.

"I don't think the public will notice any difference, but we will notice as police officers."

Dunedin North MP David Clark said "the jury was out" in regard to the announced changes.

"There are some sensible changes going on in the police as they try to work within tight budgets."

He had been reassured by police there would be a regular community clinic in North Dunedin for the public to raise concerns.

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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