Time will tell whether a ''one size fits all'' police
structure developed in Auckland works in the South, New Zealand
Police Association president Greg O'Connor says.
All Otago police stations and staff have had a new structure
imposed by Police National Headquarters, after it was
trialled in Counties Manukau.
The new structure, implemented nationwide, became effective
throughout the Southern police district this month.
Many long-serving officers had had a hard time adjusting to
changes, and there was widespread concern about the
suitability of the new structure in South Island communities,
Mr O'Connor said.
''Police have constantly gone through restructures, but this
one's slightly different in that it's a bit of a
one-size-fits-all model. It was implemented quite
successfully in Counties Manukau because they had an
injection of about 300 staff and it didn't put pressure on
staffing, and that model has pretty much now become the model
for the rest of the country,'' he said.
''Without the injection of extra staff elsewhere, it makes it
more difficult to implement, and the jury is out as to
whether it will work in the long term.''
Mr O'Connor said there were many senior officers in the South
who had been in the job a long time and knew their
communities well, and they were more sceptical about the new
Officers feared it would adversely affect the service they
could provide, he said.
''Change has come from the top. Local managers didn't get any
say in it. What I'm hearing from police is `if it works,
fine, but if it doesn't work then it's going to be very hard
Part of the worry resulted from losing non-sworn staff, who
often went above and beyond what was in their job
descriptions, Mr O'Connor said.
''There's no doubt about it, the restructure does have an
impact on staff - particularly non-sworn staff - and a lot of
the sworn colleagues are particularly upset by the fact that
a lot of their non-sworn colleagues have been restructured
out of a job or forced to more centralised locations. That's
had quite a major impact.''
Police were not any more adverse to change than anyone else,
and the nationwide drop in crime was mirrored throughout the
Western world so was not necessarily attributable to
structural changes, he said.
In the Southern police district, encompassing Otago and
Southland, staff numbers have remained the same but many
officers have had to adjust to new roles and a change in
Staff have been grouped into three pillars of police work -
prevention, investigation and response.
In Dunedin, five of the six senior sergeants have new roles
as district shift commanders and the other has been promoted
to an inspector level as the district deployment manager.
Acting Southern district commander Superintendent Richard
Chambers said: ''There are also two new sergeant positions
based in Dunedin, an officer in charge of the station and a
new sergeant position within the prevention group.
''The work that staff are doing under these three new
groupings is not significantly different from what they were
doing previously. A community constable is still a community
constable but now sits under the prevention pillar, and the
number of general duties or response staff has not changed,''
A new senior sergeant at Balclutha has been given the role of
rural response manager, and the former Mosgiel senior
sergeant has been relocated to Dunedin, leaving a sergeant in
charge of the Mosgiel station.
In Invercargill, the new station officer-in-charge role meant
there was one fewer senior sergeant positions, but throughout
most of rural Otago the configurations of rank
''essentially'' remained the same, Supt Chambers said.
The new nationwide prevention first policing strategy had a
4% shift towards crime prevention, which meant more foot
patrols and hotel visits.
In the Southern police district, there were 558 constabulary
staff and 79 other employees.
Dunedin's central station had 263 staff, North Dunedin 13 and
South Dunedin 20.