Port police cut defended

Police have defended a decision to cut Port Chalmers policing numbers in half.

This week, Southern District commander Superintendent Andrew Coster confirmed the station would now be manned by a single officer.

The station had previously been manned by two officers, but over the past six months had been staffed by a sole-charge officer.

Supt Coster said given any urgent response would be provided by Dunedin-based officers around the clock, coupled with declining crime rates, a two-officer station could no longer be justified.

''There is absolutely strong justification for having a strong community policing presence there, which I am confident we can maintain through the member who is out there,'' he said.

That came as little comfort to Dunedin North MP David Clark, who said the cut was forced on police because of budget cuts by Police Minister Anne Tolley who had turned a ''blind eye to the consequences''.

''One of the consequences is fewer staff in communities; others include reduced training, fewer cars and on it goes.''

Mrs Tolley hit back, saying: ''There have been no police budget cuts, but there has been a significant drop in recorded crimes.

''In fact, the crime rate is at its lowest in 33 years.''

She said local police made their own decisions on where to place staff, ''in the right places at the right times to prevent crime, and I trust them to get it right''.

Dr Clark said he planned to seek a meeting with Supt Coster to discuss the change.

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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