Paula Bennett –
In February, Prime Minister Bill English and I announced a $503 million initiative called ‘Safer Communities’ that will increase police staff by 1125 – a 10% increase.
I am unapologetic about targeting the worst offenders to get them off our streets, but I also believe that we can achieve more by investing smartly in areas that will prevent crime from happening in the first place.
Crime prevention is vitally important to our Indian communities, where minorities and businesses are often targeted by violent offenders.
Many of you in your own neighbourhoods will know stories of robberies and organised crime, as well as the prevalence of family violence in our more vulnerable families.
We have heard what the community expects: that you want to see more police interacting with Chinese, Indian and other ethnic communities so that they can go about their lives and business activities safely, and with confidence.
To support this, we announced 20 new specialist Ethnic Liaison Officers modelled on the existing Maori Liaison Officers that have been successful working with Maori.
These officers will build relationships with local community leaders and members, and invest the time and effort to connect those with dysfunction in hard-to-access communities to social services.
They will also visit small business owners, help facilitate community meetings, provide advice and reassurance, and ensure the issues facing ethnic communities are well understood at all levels of Police.
We understand some of the challenges facing ethnic communities who may be hesitant in approaching police for help, and speaking out as victims.
To that end, we are working with Victim Support on new ways to encourage ethnic victims of crime to seek support and ask for help.
You will also notice that Ministers are taking this aspect of policing very seriously.
Recently, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, New Zealand’s first Indian Sikh MP and Chair of the Law and Order Select Committee, as the new Parliamentary Private Secretary for Police.
This will help ensure that Ministers have a strong advocate for ethnic communities on issues of law and order.
We have heard that you want to see more police on the beat, and hence we will ensure that 95% of New Zealanders are within 25 kilometres of patrolling officers.
This announcement is about the entire country; every single police district will have more police, 140 of the new officers will go directly to regional and rural areas.
We want to tackle the worst kinds of crime, which is why we are adding more specialist investigators for child protection, sexual assault and family violence.
We are unapologetic about targeting the worst offenders.
We will also have more officers to target organised crime, gangs and drugs methamphetamine. We want this insidious drug out of our communities.
Police will work alongside other agencies in this battle.
We will lock up the worst offenders.
Corrections will then work to rehabilitate them.
The Ministry of Social Development will work alongside the Police to prevent their children from following the same path – we want to break the cycle of drugs and family violence.
Advances in mobile technology mean that we can use our officers more effectively.
Since introducing more mobility devices and applications, the equivalent of 354 frontline officers have been freed up so that they spend less time behind a desk and more time on the street. That the equivalent to 354 officers in addition to the 1125 officers we have just announced.
This is a $503 million investment, but this is your money that we are spending.
To make sure that we are getting results, we have set a number of challenging performance targets.
We expect that Police will attend 98% of burglaries within 48 hours.
Over the next four years, Police will seize $400 million of cash and assets from gangs and organised crime, up from $230 million.
Police will increase their response time for both answering and attending emergency calls, and we will reduce the number of deaths from family violence and reduce Maori offending.
Every New Zealander has a right to feel safe in their home and their community and I am hopeful this announcement will achieve that for the people of your communities.
Paula Bennett is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Police. She is seen here with National Member of Parliament, Law & Order Select Committee Chairman and Parliamentary Private Secretary to Police Minister with new Dogs that joined the Police Dog Squad recently.