2 Nov 2017

Govt wants foreign police officers on fast-track

8:29 am on 2 November 2017

Foreign police officers may have their visas fast-tracked in order to help the government fulfil its promise to expand the force.

Close up of the back of a police officer wearing a vest.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

As part of its coalition deal with New Zealand First, the Labour Party said it would aim to boost the number of police by 1800 over the next three years.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said looking offshore was one possible way to fill the numbers.

"You would think that New Zealand is a pretty attractive place to come," he said.

"I'll talk to the Minister of Immigration and say 'hey look, if we do a recruitment programme overseas and we get sworn officers coming in from a number of countries, can we look to fast-track visas for these men and women so we can get them out on the street?'"

However, Police Association president Chris Cahill said that process had not worked for other countries.

"Going overseas is a short term solution that doesn't necessary work," he said.

chris cahill

Chris Cahill Photo: supplied

"We think there's plenty of young people in New Zealand, plus other people looking for career changes, who would really enjoy the chance of joining the New Zealand police."

Mr Cahill would like to see more targeted recruiting for Pasifika, Māori and women.

"They are three groups straight away that we believe we could increase our representation in, that haven't traditionally been high joiners of the police.

"It's just a matter of making the police an attractive career option, getting into schools earlier, and obviously it has to be attractive financially."

According to Immigration New Zealand, it takes about one month to process temporary work visas, and up to six months for resident visa applications.

In addition to speeding up the visa process, Mr Nash said he wanted to get foreign officers out on the frontline faster.

"I need to talk to the [Police] Commissioner about whether they do have to go through a full police training or whether there can be a truncated one.

"If you're a sworn officer from overseas, you've got to come up to speed with our law and our culture, but not necessarily the full [training] term."

National Party finance spokesperson Steven Joyce said the need to recruit offshore showed the government's new migration policy was a failure.

"The problem they've got - we saw from the latest statistics on job growth - is the New Zealand economy is delivering lots of jobs, fifty-something-thousand in the last quarter alone.

"We are starting to run out of available people and [the government] would be far better to acknowledge that for the economy as a whole rather than making special cases for the police or the construction sector."