Speech to the 83rd Interpol General Assembly Ministerial Meeting

  • Michael Woodhouse

Good afternoon Ministers,

It's a great pleasure to be here today as we celebrate 100 years of nations working together to combat crime.

Just as it is important for countries to cooperate across borders to detect and prevent crime, so too is it necessary for Police services worldwide to build partnerships across different sectors within their own countries.

Cross-agency and cross-sector collaboration is something the New Zealand Government has emphasised through its Better Public Services programme and it is something New Zealand Police has long embraced to help keep communities safe.

Over the past four years, New Zealand Police has undergone a major transformation through its Policing Excellence programme. This has brought a change of mindset in Police and put preventing crime and meeting the needs of victims at the forefront of everything it does.

A key feature of this has been Police partnering with other government agencies and departments, local government, community groups and other stakeholders in the public and private sectors.

A good example of this is the deployment of 34 Neighbourhood Policing Teams to work with communities where people are particularly likely to be victims of crimes and crashes. These teams work closely with other agencies, such as public housing, health, social welfare and child protection agencies, schools and local businesses to identify and address the underlying causes of crime and promote safe communities.

The targets for Policing Excellence were to increase prevention activity by 4 percent, reduce total crime by 13 percent and reduce prosecutions by 19 percent by June 2014. When the Policing Excellence programme ended June 30 2014, prevention activity had increased by 5.8 percent, total crime had reduced by 20.1 percent and there was a 41.3 percent reduction in prosecutions. 

Police is now embarking on a new period of improvement in Policing Excellence: The Future. This will see an even greater focus on collaboration with the public, private and community sectors because Police's experience over the past four years has shown that this delivers results.

Government agencies and community groups including Justice, Corrections, Child, Youth and Family, Treasury, the State Services Commission, The New Zealand Transport Agency, the Ministry of Health, Victim Support and Maori have been actively involved in the planning process for this new programme of improvement.

These agencies have been invited to workshops with Police staff and their ideas on how Police and other agencies can work together have been fed through for further consideration. Police expects these groups to be actively involved in the implementation of Policing Excellence: The Future, and their input will be crucial to its success as Police drills down into the really difficult challenges New Zealand faces.

For example, one of the themes of Policing Excellence: The Future will be reducing Maori over-representation in the criminal justice system, both as victims and as offenders. Police expects that many of the initiatives it introduces in this area will be led and delivered by Maori themselves.

The New Zealand Government is also taking a multi-agency approach to address the harm caused by gangs and trans-national crime groups. This will include:

  • A multi-agency Gang Intelligence Centre, led by Police, and a programme of social initiatives to address the inter-generational nature of gang life and to support communities where there is a large gang presence.
  • It will also identify youths at risk of joining gangs, so that agencies can target interventions to help steer them away from gang life.
  • The Government will establish an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Border Protection Taskforce to target drug trafficking networks, stop new gangs from entering New Zealand and restrict international gang travel, and a Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce to target profits from crime.

Legislative changes will also be considered to include measures such as 24-hour GPS monitoring of high-risk gang affiliates following release from a prison sentence, and Police and the Justice Ministry will explore Interim Freezing Orders on bank accounts and cash and possible unexplained wealth laws for those convicted of drug trafficking or similar offences.


A key factor in the success of Police's change programme has been the mobility initiative, which was rolled out in 2013. This has revolutionised the way New Zealand Police work and is a very good example of Police working with a private sector provider to bring vast improvements and efficiencies.

Police wanted to become more mobile and visible to enhance its ability to prevent crime and reduce victimisation. To do this, Police needed the tools and technology that would allow frontline staff to spend more time in their communities where they can make the most difference.

Police realised that achieving this objective would require a close and long-term working relationship with a provider that understood what was required and could provide ongoing services and support. To achieve this, Police embarked on a formal tendering process which resulted in a 10-year strategic partnership with Vodafone. Vodafone is more than simply a supplier in this relationship.

Vodafone was actively involved in the service design and application development for Police's mobility devices, and it is involved in Police's mobility innovation team, which is constantly examining new uses for smart phones and tablets.

Police is also able to tap into Vodafone's global reach and its international networks to quickly take advantage of new and evolving technology without having to reinvent the wheel.

The mobility project saw 6500 smart phones and 3900 tablets deployed to all our frontline staff by June 30 this year, making New Zealand Police more mobile and visible than ever before.

The introduction of mobile technology has provided frontline officers with significantly enhanced access to police systems at the time and place they need them. This has allowed Police's frontline to spend less time behind a desk and more time in their communities preventing crime.

It has also assisted in deploying frontline staff when and where they are needed and allowed real time information to be shared with District Command Centres and the National Command and Coordination Centre at Police National Headquarters.

The cameras on the phones can stream directly back to these centres, allowing those making decisions to see what's going on as it is happening. For example, supervisors can now remotely watch major operations unfolding in real time, greatly informing their decision-making.

Police staff can also run queries and views of people, vehicles and locations from their devices, bringing significant time savings. This means, for example, that Police can check the identity of people they stop and access information that allows them to assess risks when going into certain situations - for instance, whether someone has a history of using weapons. There were more than 210,000 queries and views of people, vehicles and locations to 30 June this year.

Police is now working with Vodafone to introduce future applications that will bring more efficiencies and productivity gains. These include roadside traffic infringements and traffic crash reporting. Police and Vodafone are also exploring further uses, such as mobile biometrics and electronic forms.

Being able to complete tasks in the field on mobile devices negates the need to return to the police station or spend undue time on the police radio system to obtain information from the Communications Centres, as was the case in the past.

Mobility has not only enhanced officer safety, it has also delivered significant productivity gains. The issuing of mobility devices to Police has freed up an average of 30 minutes of time per officer per shift. That's the equivalent of 520,000 hours a year that have been freed up for reinvestment in prevention activities. This will bring Police productivity improvements of more than $300 million between 2013 and 2025.

Police's mobility initiative is an excellent example of cooperation with the private sector to prevent crime and reduce victimisation. It has made Zealand Police more responsive, effective and efficient than ever before.

It is just one of many areas where Police is working with the private sector as well as with other public sector agencies and community groups to prevent crime and reduce victimisation.

Police is also working with innovative New Zealand companies to solve complex problems. Examples include:

  • the social media scanning platform Signal, developed with IT provider Intergen for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and since turned into a global commercial product as a partnership between Police and Intergen;
  • Police's work with advanced crime analytics software and services provider Wynyard Group on its new world class investigations platform;
  • and Tait Communications around its digital radio network.

Once again, it's a pleasure to be here representing New Zealand, and I wish you all the best in your endeavours, both collectively through Interpol and in your own countries.

Thank you