By Phil Goff
Auckland is growing at a fast pace – more than 800 residents a week, over 45,000 residents in the last year alone.
However, while our population has been growing our police force numbers have remained frozen. By asking the Minister of Police in Parliament I found out that the net increase in police officers in Auckland, across its three districts, over the past five years, was just five. That’s one a year.
It’s time to remind our Prime Minister what he promised eight years ago just before the 2008 election. John Key said. “We will boost overall New Zealand Police numbers so there is one officer for every 500 people and we will keep this ratio as the population grows.” (National press release, 20 October 2008)
This simply has not happened. If that promise had been kept then Auckland right now would have 630 additional police officers, not five. The Police are under-resourced and can’t do the job the public expects them to. We have been told that police will now investigate every burglary. Where are the resources coming from to do this?
When I asked the Minister for Police in which of the last four years the money allocated to the Police in the Budget had exceeded the real level of costs facing them, the Minister answered, “in only one year”.
The public knows that too often when reasonable requests are made to the Police, including following up on crimes like burglary and even robbery where the offender has been identified, police action is not forthcoming. Victims have, for example, tracked cell phones robbed from them, advised the Police and have been told that the Police can do nothing to help.
For every 100 burglaries carried out each year in Auckland only six of them are resolved. A criminal who knows that he has a 94 percent chance of getting away with crime will keep on offending!
The excuse that crime is coming down no longer has credibility, if it ever did. Crime is on the rise in Auckland and across New Zealand. In the past year the number of robberies and burglaries has risen by 9000, up 14 percent. There are over 200 burglaries and robberies every day on average. That added up to 75,000 last year.
As an MP I have been pushing the Police Minister to commit to more police for Auckland, to stop closing police stations and to properly resource our police to keep the community safe.
Year after year there have been denials that there is a problem. In fact, in this year’s Police Four Year Plan no provision has been made for extra police, right through to 2020.
The Mayor of Auckland does not have direct power over police numbers and resources. It is a central government responsibility. However, I can promise this. As Mayor I will be a strong voice for Auckland, lobbying central government for a fair deal for our city. And I will not rest until I have a commitment from them that the promise made in 2008 will be kept.
We need the Police to have the resources to allow them to do their job of keeping us safe in our businesses, our homes and in the community.
Editor – Phil Goff is the Mayor of Auckland.