6 Mar 2012

Police boss under pressure to keep to budget

10:43 pm on 6 March 2012

The Police Commissioner says a zero or minimal wage increase for staff is the only way he will be able to balance his budget and avoid making cuts.

The Government has told police they must keep within their $1.4 billion budget and says all government departments are having to manage without extra money.


Commissioner Peter Marshall is ruling out cuts to frontline policing, but warns other services may be affected and this could include some stations being closed.

Mr Marshall says the police can live within their budget, but any deficit will depend on the wage claim and all bets are off until pay talks begin in a few months.

The commissioner told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Tuesday he is confident that staff and their union understand the situation and will act responsibly.

"The wage negotiations are going to be very, very important. But there will be no constabulary members losing their jobs as a result of this and the disruption to our police employees will be minimal."

Peter Marshall says some non-sworn positions are already being done away with in a merging of human resources and finance from the 12 police districts down to just three hubs.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor says it is too early to say what wage claim figure the union will go for, but staff understand the situation.

However, Mr O'Connor told Checkpoint a wage freeze is not on and the Government is distancing itself from the issue. He says the budget problem centres on inflation and is not an industrial issue.

"To try and turn it into a pay issue is unfortunate. What it is, is simply Government asking police to absorb all the inflationary pressures and cost pressures from within their budget.

"Of course those inflationary pressures include personnel, petrol, buildings, vehicles - the lot."

Mr O'Connor says any cuts in police services will affect gains made over recent years to areas such as reducing crime and road deaths.

Cuts will hit frontline police - Labour

The Labour Party says frontline policing will have to be cut if the police are to save a reported $360 million over the next three years.

Labour's police spokesperson Kris Faafoi says police simply could not absorb such massive cuts without operations being affected.

The party says it will be asking questions of the Government to establish whether the $360 million figure is accurate.

Police Minister Anne Tolley says the Government's focus is on reducing crime and increasing frontline policing.

Ms Tolley will not confirm that there is any savings target for the police, but says they must stick to their budget.

The minister says police often complain that they spend too much time on paperwork and the Government is looking at ways to get them out of the office and into the community.

Ms Tolley says she has not talked about a savings target with the Police Commissioner.