Anxious time for police in South

Southern police face an uncertain couple of months.

Many have to reapply for their jobs and in some cases compete for positions within a new police district structure, to be implemented by September 2.

The restructuring of the Southern police district was mandated by Police National Headquarters.

New Zealand Police Association Southern regional director Brett Roberts said eight or nine senior sergeants had to apply for fewer senior sergeant positions, and although there were some inspector vacancies, not all could be considered for the higher rank.

The Southern district was a successful district and most officers just wanted to get on with the good job they were already doing, but were caught up in the instability, he said.

''There's going to be less jobs in certain ranks. A lot of staff have to reapply for either their job or new jobs, and in some cases there are less positions now than there are people.

''There are some extra vacancies being advertised but they are open to all and sundry throughout New Zealand, so there will be competition for some of those jobs.''

Mr Roberts said it was a ''trying time'' for Southern police, particularly because a permanent district commander had yet to be appointed.

Although the acting commander was doing a great job, the temporary nature of his role added to the instability.

''It's all up in the air. Some people don't know where they're going to be or what jobs they're going to have.''

He said more restructuring mandated by Police National Headquarters was likely ''down the track''.

The restructuring was detailed to staff last week following a two-week consultation period and publicly announced yesterday.

Acting Southern district commander Inspector Lane Todd said the new structure retained all existing staff and police stations.

''It does, however, mean some staff will have new titles, new roles and a shift in focus.''

About 20 of the police district's 637 staff were formally advised their positions were ''affected'', and a ''very small number'' of those employees would need to relocate within their work area, Insp Todd said.

''Almost all remain in the same stations and locations but will have different roles.''

Four new prevention manager roles have been established - an area manager in each of the Otago Rural, Dunedin and Southland police areas and a district prevention manager based at the Southern police district headquarters in Dunedin.

The change was designed to ''reap the full benefits'' of the national police prevention first strategy, and to adjust the Southern district's management structure to make it consistent with a national structure, Insp Todd said.

Changes involved organising the district's work around three ''key pillars'' - prevention, response and investigations.

It meant Southern police could provide better services to communities and take advantage of technology to free up more frontline resources, Insp Todd said.

''This is about working smarter and more effectively. It's about ensuring we have the right structure in place that allows our staff to deliver the right services to the right people in our communities at the right time,'' he said.

The Waitaki policing sub-area will be aligned with the Dunedin-Clutha area instead of Otago Rural. Insp Todd said the new structure was designed to support new systems and processes implemented in the Southern police district under the national policing excellence programme.

''These [systems and processes] include establishing a centralised district file management centre in Dunedin in March, and the roll-out of the crime reporting line last month. The new structure will also support last month's roll-out of smart phones and tablets to Southern staff, which will reduce the need for officers to return to stations and allow for more operational time on the street,'' he said.

- rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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