MP airs police concerns

The public's interaction with the police is changing - and not for the better, Labour police spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern says.

Yesterday, the list MP was in Dunedin, where she raised concerns about police changes, including budget cuts, reduced staff numbers and community anxiety about reporting crime.

''I am not willing to blame police for the fact that this is occurring. It is a police force that is being forced to do more with less,'' she said.

Southern district had gone from 565 to 547 police officers over a year, with non-sworn staff reduced from 84 to 66 over the same period - ''this has to have had an impact.''

She was concerned communities - citing Mosgiel as an example - were noting their police stations were opening at reduced hours, with staff not always available after hours.

''So instead of being able to go to their local police, they will be diverted to a central call centre.''

Miss Ardern recommended a ''happy medium'', which included some centralisation to free up frontline staff, but included giving communities more opportunity to talk in person to officers.

Despite crime rates falling, she was concerned with the low rate of burglary resolutions nationally, while in the Southern district homicides and sexual assaults were up ''quite dramatically''.

 

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