MP scaremongering, Tolley says

Kris Faafoi
Kris Faafoi
An allegation that several hundred police positions, including frontline staff, could be moved from the South Island to the North Island has been dismissed by Police Minister Anne Tolley as scaremongering.

Recently, Labour MP Kris Faafoi told the Otago Daily Times 200-300 police staff could be relocated in the ''next couple of years'', according to his sources.

''I have been told if a position becomes vacant in the South Island, it won't be filled in the South Island. That position will be sent to the North Island.''

To lose 200-300 staff from the South Island would be a ''serious shift in resources ... we are concerned about the wider implications of that,'' he said.

It was likely those cuts would come from the ''two big populaces - Dunedin and Christchurch - so I would say if we are looking at 200-300 then we are looking at those two cities''.

However Ms Tolley said in a statement she had ''been assured there are no such plans to move staff - and there have been no discussions with me about such a scenario''.

''This is yet another pathetic attempt by the Labour spokesman to scaremonger and mislead the public, and he should apologise to the people of the South Island and to police staff.''

Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush reiterated there were no plans to move South Island staff to the North Island.

''What Police is always doing is assessing its resourcing needs in each police district based on demand. We will go through this process again next year and there are no assumptions made about what this will mean.''

If this required a change in resourcing, it would be achieved through attrition and strategic recruitment, and not movement of existing staff, he said.

Mr Faafoi said that in 2008, the Government had promised to ensure a ratio of one police officer to every 500 people, yet the current South Island ratio was one to 573.

Last month, Southern district commander Superintendent Bob Burns confirmed 10 non-sworn police jobs would be cut in the South, with six district support positions from Dunedin, Invercargill and Central Otago to be transferred to Auckland, to staff the police national 24-hour telephone reporting line. New Zealand Police Association Southern district regional director Detective Sergeant Brett Roberts said the union ''could only go on what Police National Headquarters are saying''.

''But we are keeping a close watching brief on what they are saying.''

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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