17 Oct 2012

Police union president warns of budget freeze risk

9:32 pm on 17 October 2012

The union for frontline police officers has given the Government a fresh warning about the risks of freezing police funding.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor has outlined what he calls the clear and ominous rise of gangs like the Headhunters, with some gang members even being caught trying to join the police.

In a speech to the association's conference in Wellington on Wednesday, Mr O'Connor said that, coupled with frozen police funding, is a recipe for trouble.

He said the police must find $200 million in spending cuts in the next two years, while the South Island won't get any new police recruits during that time - and gangs are stepping in to fill the void.

Mr O'Connor reminded delegates that financial cuts in the 1990s had consequences felt throughout the following decade.

However, Police Minister Anne Tolley told the conference there is no more money for police. "Yes, there are challenges," she said. "But a good hard look at how to work smarter and better and more effectively can also be extremely beneficial."

Ms Tolley says all government agencies are constantly looking at how to save money, and the police are not exempt from that.