Rt Hon Bill English
Last year, New Zealand was ranked the fourth-safest country in the world. We want to make it number one.
That’s why I recently announced a new $503 million Safer Communities package to reduce crime and prevent reoffending. Over the next four years the package will fund an additional 1125 police staff, including 880 sworn police officers.
This means there will be almost 10 percent more officers by 2021.
The extra investment will make police more visible and more responsive. Equally importantly, it will enable police to put more time and effort into working alongside other agencies to address the underlying drivers of dysfunction.
This half-billion dollar investment in police is part of our wider strategy to change lives for the better. We call our approach ‘Social Investment’ and it’s showing promising results in a number of areas, but the recent rise in the prison population confirms we’ve got more work to do.
That is why we are investing more in police.
This package unashamedly targets offenders to ensure they are off our streets – by providing additional resources to resolve more crime and target criminal gangs and organised crime. It also addresses the underlying drivers of crime through preventative work and more funding for prisoner rehabilitation.
Key initiatives of the package include a new national 24/7 phone number for non-emergencies like reporting an historic or low-level crime, or to get in contact with a police officer in your local area.
The Eagle Helicopter will now be available around the clock with a response time of 10-15 minutes. The Eagle will now be funded to run 24/7, 365 days of the year and can also be deployed anywhere in New Zealand.
There will be an additional 140 specialist investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime (66 of these have been previously announced). And an extra 80 officers to target organised crime, gangs and methamphetamine.
We will fund 20 additional ethnic liaison officers who will work with ethnic communities and businesses to stop crime in these communities. And there will be more officers for up to 20 regional and rural police stations. This will ensure that 95 percent of the population lives within 25 kilometres of a 24/7 police presence.
The targets won’t be easy to meet – but we don’t shy away from hard issues.
We’re here to make a difference. Investing more in police will make our communities safer. It will reduce crime and reoffending, and help steer some of our most disadvantaged young people onto a more productive path.
That’s an outcome worth investing in.