A modern police service for a modern city

  • Judith Collins

Kia ora

It is a great pleasure to be with you to celebrate the opening of the second stage of the new Manukau police station – the nerve centre of policing in South Auckland.

It is wonderful to see so many familiar faces here today. I have lived in South Auckland for seven years and have come to know many of you well.

The fact that so many of you have come along today to celebrate the opening of this building says a lot about the important role the police play in making this a better and safer place to live.

We are all proud of our diverse and vibrant community. We are a community that is growing fast, and we have high hopes for the future.

But that growth and diversity brings with it a unique set of challenges.

Counties-Manukau is the busiest police district in the country. We are fortunate that there were several far-sighted people within the police who began planning many years ago for the future needs of police in this district.

Few things give a Minister of Police a greater sense of pride than the opportunity to open a new police station.

While this was a team effort, I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge a couple of people whose determination and hard work helped make this possible.

Assistant Commissioner Steve Shortland: As District Commander you lived and breathed this project for four years - plus of course the many years spent developing your philosophy and vision.

This is your baby - congratulations.

Project Director from the Police National Property Office, Jonathan Leach: Having been in your role for almost six years and overseen the completion of 15 police stations, you have remarkable experience and knowledge.

Your colleagues speak highly of that, but also your uncanny ability to turn their ideas into bricks and mortar.

It is an immense privilege to be speaking to you today as Minister of Police. Over the past two and a half months I have been very busy getting to know the portfolio.

I have spoken to police up and down New Zealand - town and country, uniformed and non-uniformed.

What I have seen is a group of people who are deeply committed to their work.

Policing is an important but difficult job. It is also constantly changing because the community that it serves is also constantly changing.

Perhaps the greatest example of that is here in Manukau. This modern city demands a modern police service.

I am a firm believer that the foundation of any police service is officers out on the streets and the neighbourhoods where crime occurs. Being visible and being responsive is one of the greatest deterrents to criminals.

But in a hi-tech world, where criminals commit crimes and hide out in cyberspace, a modern police service needs specialists who can hunt and track criminals in the virtual world.

Our criminals are becoming more sophisticated and organised. The patched members you see on the streets are just the foot soldiers of large criminal enterprises that control rivers of money and leave misery in their wake.

A modern police service needs to understand these networks and stay one step ahead.

In a society that is increasingly made up of people from all over the world, and who are proud of their heritage and culture, a modern police service needs to be sympathetic to their values and traditions.

As Police Minister I am committed to a police service that is well trained, well resourced and well supported.

New Zealand is now part of an interconnected world. The standards expected of us all are now world standards and over the next few years the government will be raising the bar across the board.

I am proud of the New Zealand police and firmly believe they are among the finest in the world.

However, there is no room for complacency. During my term as Police Minister I will be asking for even higher levels of excellence and professionalism.

I will be asking you to do the basics well, with common sense, initiative and integrity.

My expectations will be greater because the public’s expectations will be greater. I know I can count on you to rise to this challenge.

This government will make sure the police are well equipped in their fight against crime.

In the coming months we will amend the Crimes Act to make it easier for the police to conduct surveillance on gang communications.

The Local Government Act will be overhauled to give police more power to storm and remove gang fortifications.

The law will be strengthened so it is illegal to be a member of a criminal organisation.

Earlier this month, I also asked the police to look at laws that will put a stop to large, unruly gatherings of illegal street racers and their friends. If all else fails, we’ll crush a few cars if we have to.

Strengthening the law is only one part of building safer communities.

It is essential that the police have plenty of troops on the ground where crime takes place.

This government has made it a priority to boost police numbers. We’ll be putting an extra 300 frontline police into Counties-Manukau by the end of 2010 and working to a ratio of 1 officer to 500 people by the end of 2011.

There remains no better deterrent to crime than a police force that has the full support of the communities it serves.

Fighting and preventing crime has time and again been shown to be most successful when there is a partnership between the police and other community based organisations.

Around the world, community policing has been so effective because the people that live in communities have an interest in making those communities better places.

I am referring here to groups such as Neighbourhood Support, Crime Watch Patrols and Victim Support who do a great job in support of the police.

I’m confident that the additional manpower, sharper legislative teeth and the support of the community will make a significant impact on the front lines of crime.

And I am confident that this state-of-the-art new station will enable the police to serve the people of Manukau City and Counties-Manukau with professionalism and pride.

Congratulations, again, to those to those who worked so hard to ensure the vision of this facility came to fruition.

This station is a tribute to them, and to those who will serve in it.

Thank you.