The upcoming wing of the Royal New Zealand Police College has been suspended. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Police have put the brakes on training new officers, despite increased gun violence and gang activity.
The delays have left hundreds of recruits in limbo and mean the Government is still far from pledging in the past year to put an additional 1800 policemen on the streets last year.
Candidates from the upcoming training wing were originally scheduled to attend the Royal New Zealand Police College in February.
But they were told in the documents obtained Herald on Sundays that their training will be suspended until the end of 2021 once recruitment requirements are reconsidered.
The decision means six months of a new police drought hitting the streets between March and September.
A total of 60 recruits will be deployed in March at the end of the last four months of scheduled training.
Police said the next earliest admission for training was scheduled to begin in May, so no new officers would be available to work until September.
Police stopped recruiting in June last year, due to increased applications during the Covid-19 lockdown, but assured those already in the process that their training would continue.
In a statement, executive director of people and operations Kaye Ryan said a resignation rate of as low as 2 percent meant there was now “less need to recruit police,” although fewer than 400 police were less than the goal of the 2017 Coalition Government Agreement of adding 1,800 new police officers on top. friction for three years.
Ryan said that the growth target is always funded over a five year period.
But Police Association spokesman Chris Cahill said he believed police should stop training because they had exceeded their five-year budget. He insisted that the money be brought in so that training could restart immediately.
“Labor actually budgeted this for five years from June 2018 to June 2023 and we thought it was crazy because they said if it could be done, they would do it in three years,” he said. Herald on Sundays.
“New police are needed now more than ever. We have over 200 police staff working in managed isolation facilities so that 200 staff don’t take to the streets. Why don’t you get hired when you get people to want them? Join in and the police have the capacity to train?
“Our members tell us they have seen some real advantages with the extra numbers coming, it has a real impact on morale in the police and their ability to do the job. By canceling the wing, we risk losing all those benefits.”
Last month, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff asked the police to increase the number of frontline officers to crack down on drug trafficking and organized crime as the city grapples with growing gun violence.
Gang membership has also increased nationally. At least 900 people are reported to have joined the gang in 2020, a 13 percent increase from the previous year, according to police figures.
National police spokesman Simeon Brown said the suspension of training in this regard reflected a “lack of commitment” from the Government to “an objective in law and order to keep New Zealand safe”.
“What happened was a failure in the Government that didn’t deliver on their promises and failed,” Brown said.
“It’s about time we took this seriously and really made sure we had the appropriate police resources.
“The public is aware of the fact that crime is on the rise, especially organized criminal activity, and they need the police to be as effective and resourceful as possible.”
Cahill added that he worries that May’s admission means only 40 recruits are being trained and will only resume if the cutback rate increases.
He worries that the extended delay will cost them a potential candidate in the police force.
One police candidate, who asked not to be named, agreed that the process was “disappointing”.
“There is a huge lack of communication with recruits and I feel neglected,” they said Herald on Sundays.
“It’s sad to meet all the requirements on my part, through a long and expensive process, only to be told they don’t know exactly when we will be shipped.
“Recruitment seems very misinformed and very touching. It’s hard to make life decisions when sitting in uncertainty.”
That Herald on Sundays asked Police Minister Poto Williams why the Government didn’t withdraw money from its five-year budget to train more officers now.
A spokesperson on duty said the government had nothing to add to the police response.