7 Dec 2023

Police Minister Mark Mitchell backs commissioner Andrew Coster

8:33 am on 7 December 2023
Mark Mitchell

The new Police Minister Mark Mitchell met with commissioner Andrew Coster on Wednesday. Photo: RNZ / Sam Rillstone

Police Minister Mark Mitchell has finally declared his full confidence in Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, after repeatedly dodging the question.

Mitchell has set his expectations of Coster, laying out the government's direction and priorities in a letter. The pair agreed to the terms when they met on Wednesday.

The minister has openly criticised the direction the organisation's taken over the past six years.

In the letter, released by the public service commissioner, Mitchell told police he wants a more visible police presence and new legislation used to crack down on gangs.

He told Morning Report it was obvious he released the letter so he could have full confidence in the commissioner: "Which I do."

"I wanted to have full confidence in the police commissioner that he would implement our policies and legislation and so that's why I sort of engaged with this process through the Public Services Commission, which is exactly what it's there for."

Mitchell said he thinks Coster is good at his job.

"I've worked with him when he was in the Justice Ministry, he's a man of integrity, highly intelligent, very strong around policy, I just want to see him now get out there and support what we want to achieve and I think that he's going to do that."

Mitchell has told Coster to retain and develop staff despite Australia actively working to recruit officers.

Recruitment was a challenge particularly with a lot of officers reaching retirement age and the level of international recruitment, he said.

There would be challenges in delivering this target, Mitchell said, but he had full confidence in the commissioner.

Andrew Coster

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Speaking about the new gang-related legislation the coalition government had vowed to pass in its first 100 days, Mitchell said he expected police to police gangs.

This would include banning gang patches, stopping gang members gathering in public, stopping known gang members from communicating with each other, and giving police greater search powers.

"Gangs don't get to break the law ... in the last six years gangs have come to believe that the laws don't apply to them. We have laws in this country, most Kiwis are law abiding, gangs aren't and I expect the police to police them."

Police could use their discretion in enforcing the gang laws, he said.

"It's going to require strong and proactive policing. The gangs are getting a very clear message that their days to ignore the laws and act with impunity are over."

  • Police Minister Mark Mitchell sets out expectations of commissioner
  • Government confirms its 100-day plan