Hawke’s Bay Today, Hawke’s Bay by Victoria White 28 Nov 2017
The Eastern District is set to get 19 extra police officers this year, Minister for Police and Napier MP Stuart Nash has said following concerns about the validity of pledges made during his reelection campaign.
Last week the Labour MP – a long-standing critic of the previous Government’s resourcing of the region – was questioned on his ability to bring more Police staff to the Eastern District, which includes his Napier electorate.
On Thursday 40 new recruits were deployed across six police districts after graduating from the Royal New Zealand Police College. While nearly half of those went to Wellington, the Eastern District was given just one.
Mr Nash acknowledged the Eastern District was underresourced, but said Police had operational independence which meant Ministers could not direct the Police Commissioner on operational matters such as deployment.
This raised concern as during his campaign to retain the Napier seat, one of Mr Nash’s key messages was the need to bolster policing numbers and resources.
Concern also came from the 2017 National Party candidate David Elliott, who said the people of Napier voted for “a long-running politician who was very good at saying what people wanted to hear”.
“It’s a sad indictment on modern-day PR-driven politics.” Yesterday Mr Nash said as Napier’s MP he was “absolutely committed to ensuring the best for the constituents in my electorate”.
“They have put their faith in me and voted for me because they believe I can do the best job for them, I do not take that responsibility lightly.” In his role as Opposition spokesperson for Police he had to understand how Police worked, including areas that could be bolstered, and what he could do if appointed as Police Minister to assist.
“As Police Minister I am now in a position to do something about the long years of underfunding Police has experienced.” The Labour-New Zealand First coalition government goal of striving to hire 1800 sworn officers, “is one that I am taking very seriously and will benefit every community, including Napier”, Mr Nash said.
“Police advise an extra 220 officers are being recruited this financial year with 19 extra officers going to the Eastern District. The district will continue to benefit from the additional funding in the coming years.” When applying to be an officer, recruits indicate where they would like to be based. This means if no vacant position comes up in their preferred area, they have to wait for a vacancy, or can go to an area with vacancies.
“I’m not privy to the reasons why recruits may choose to go to areas other than Napier but, as the local MP, I encourage people who are applying to be Police to consider going to the Eastern District,” Mr Nash said.
“It’s a beautiful part of the country and somewhere you will have a very positive impact on the community.” The Eastern District was an area of focus in a new recruitment campaign, which Mr Nash joined New Zealand Police in launching at the weekend. The already-viral video campaign aims to attract hundreds of new recruits to join next year.
A police spokesman said Eastern District Police remained resourced to respond to the needs of the local community and deliver a policing service to the public.
Last week Police said before the recent graduate, 24 staff had been deployed to the Eastern District.
“The district continues to welcome new staff to serve the communities of Tairawhiti and Hawke’s Bay, including the new graduate . . . from Wing 309.”