Following the events of March 15th in Christchurch we are responding to unexpected new demands for national security, crime prevention and community safety. The Wellbeing Budget contains more than $260 million in new initiatives for Police.
Thanks to this new investment, Police can strengthen controls on the use of firearms in this country. They will be able to take the most dangerous weapons out of circulation and begin the next stage of reforms to reduce the risk of firearms falling into the wrong hands.
The new initiatives for Police include:
- $168 mill for payments and administration of the gun buyback scheme;
- $41.8 mill to tackle family violence;
- $5.86 mill for victim video statements;
- $37.19 mill to provide all emergency services (Police, Fire, Ambulance) with state of the art new digital communications capabilities and ensure the integrity of the current system in the interim (four years);
- $8.778 mill for other cross-justice sector initiatives, such as mental health, addiction and alcohol and drug programmes.
In addition we are making a substantial investment of $455 million in frontline mental health services. One of the key pressures on front line officers is because a lack of health resources in the past has meant they are the first line of response to mental health needs in the community. Improving mental health care is one of our long-term challenges.
The Coalition Government’s commitment to strive for 1800 extra Police is tracking well. During this financial year Police will receive an extra $57 million to support their major recruitment, training and deployment campaign. It means we can continue to increase the number of frontline officers deployed across the whole country. It flows from the major funding package in last year’s budget which was designed to make real inroads into community safety and crime prevention.
Around 1300 new frontline officers have graduated and been deployed into communities right around the country since the government took office. A new wing of up to 80 recruits starts at the Royal NZ Police College every month.
During the coming financial year up to 900 new Police constables will graduate from 16 recruit wings, including a record five training wings in Auckland.
We are stepping up efforts to train recruits in Auckland after the success of innovative recruit wings there. We have trained two wings in Auckland since we took office. It was the first time new constables have been trained in our largest city since the 1970s.
The 19-week Auckland wings are non-residential, which means recruits can go home to their families at the end of each day. We listened to feedback from aspiring Police officers who say it’s hard on the wellbeing of their families to leave home for months, especially if they have young children.
We are continuing to roll out the investment in recruitment and training of new officers. We also have a number of pressing infrastructure investments that have been deferred for 10 years. Our Wellbeing Budget shows we are focused on supporting safer communities.