30 Aug 2016

Organised crime, drug policing 'will suffer'

7:27 am on 30 August 2016

There are not enough police officers to attend every burglary in the country and keep on top of other crime, the Police Association says.

Police attend the scene of a cordon at Mangere.

There are not enough police to attend every burglary, says the officers' union. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

In a major policy change, police will now aim to attend nearly all of New Zealand's 35,000 home burglaries a year.

Burglaries increased by about 11 percent in the year to February and police are solving fewer than one in 10 cases.

Minister of Police Judith Collins said she hoped the new focus on burglaries would help turn this around.

"I would expect that there will be an increase in resolution rates, we've certainly seen that where police have been targetting burglaries around the country, particularly in Auckland, that there was an immediate up-pick in the resolution rate.

"And that sends a very strong message to burglars that they will be found," she said.

However, Police Association president Greg O'Connor said this approach had been tried before and there simply were not enough officers to cope.

Senior Sergeant, Greg O’Connor.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

"It's a good idea, however the reason we stopped doing it is that we didn't have enough people to do it, and now there's no more people and yet we're going to have to do it again, so something else is going to suffer. And it will probably be organised crime policing and drug policing - which is the cause of most of the burglaries anyway."

Labour Party police spokesperson Stuart Nash said this would be a fantastic announcement if there were enough police officers.

Stuart Nash.

Labour Party police spokesperson Stuart Nash. Photo: SUPPLIED

In reality, he said the new burglary policy would see fewer police on the front line.

"What we need for this to really happen and ensure that everything gets done properly is actually more police on the front line.

"The minister has been talking about this for a while and she needs to stop talking and just put up, actually," Mr Nash said.

He said crime statistics showed robberies, assaults and thefts were all rising too.

This week an online poll of 12,000 people found nearly nine in 10 Chinese people in New Zealand were unhappy with how the police are tackling crime.

And that 60 percent of Chinese are worried about public safety.

After months of insisting there are enough police officers, three weeks ago the government announced it was considering boosting police numbers to keep pace with the growing population.