The police unit that protects the Prime Minister and other
VIPs has had another budget blowout - this time by almost
The police had a budget of just under $5 million in the
financial year to June 2013 but spent more than $6.2 million.
It is the fourth year in a row the budget has been blown by
the diplomatic protection squad.
Inspector Phil Jones, the officer in charge of the squad,
said it was difficult to forecast accurately the budget
because of the nature of their work.
But part of the overspending has been blamed on a system
introduced to reduce time off in lieu accrued by staff while
on protection duties.
"A new, more efficient roster and deployment system was
implemented during the 2012-13 year ... To assist in the
introduction of the new system, the existing time off in lieu
balances which had been accrued over the previous years were
paid out to DPS staff," Mr Jones said.
Superintendent Barry Taylor, national manager of operations,
said after the time off in lieu buy-back, the squad had
underspent for the year.
"Police is constantly prioritising its resources according to
operational requirements and the difference has been met from
within existing operating budgets without impacting on other
services," Mr Taylor said.
Police Minister Anne Tolley said police were responsible to
her for living within their total allocated budget and they
were doing that.
"The DPS perform an important function in protecting
dignitaries, and the Police Commissioner is responsible for
its operational management. I trust police to deploy DPS
officers as they see fit, and politicians cannot and should
not interfere in any of these decisions."
After previous budget blowouts, Opposition parties accused
the Prime Minister of being partly responsible for the
increased spending because of what they claimed was an
overuse of security details, even within Parliament.
Labour police spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern told the Herald Mr
Key's use of the DPS was unprecedented. "Even from what we
have observed within Parliament, there seems to be an
increase in staff."
Ms Ardern said former prime ministers did not rely on so much
security and it was up to Mr Key to justify it.
"We're sort of working in the dark because we don't really
know what sort of threats or reasons there could be [for the
A spokeswoman for Mr Key said he had nothing to do with the
decisions police made on security.
"The Prime Minister considers his protection staff to be
extremely hard-working professionals," the spokeswoman said.
DPS officers are based in Auckland and Wellington and provide
VIP protection for the Prime Minister, Governor-General,
guests of the Government and embassies and consulates.
- Andrew Koubaridis, New Zealand Herald