17 October, 2012
Speech to New Zealand Police Association Annual Conference
James Cook Hotel, Wellington
E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā hau e whā. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
Good morning everyone and thank you for the invitation to open your annual conference.
Can I acknowledge your President Greg O'Connor and your executive. We have a constructive relationship and I appreciate that. Can I also acknowledge Police Association delegates – and give a warm welcome to the international delegates from South Africa, Tonga and Australia.
I want to start by saying it is an honour to be Minister of Police. I've held this position for almost a year.
By far the best part of the job is getting out into communities and speaking to frontline officers and visiting police stations, and I've been privileged to attend a number of award ceremonies.
To hear first hand about the bravery, hard work and dedication of our Police officers can be a humbling experience.
They also don't beat around the bush when it comes to raising issues that affect them, and I also appreciate that.
So today I thought I would talk to you about the Government's Better Public Service Targets and the changes taking place within the Police. I'm also happy to take questions at the end.
But before looking forward, I want to take a moment and reflect on some very real successes for Police, and thank you all for your contribution to those successes.
At the beginning of this month it was revealed that the recorded crime rate was down by 5.9 per cent in the fiscal year to June 2012.
That translates as almost 22,000 fewer crimes – an amazing result, especially as it comes on top of a 7 per cent reduction in the previous year.
This didn't happen by accident – Police deserve huge praise for making our communities safer and I thank all our Police staff for their efforts.
And let's not forget the record low road toll last year, due in large part to the vigilance and professionalism of our road policing teams.
All over the country, every single day, Police are making a difference and I know that the public of New Zealand appreciates that.
The Gravitas survey of 9,706 people showed 77 per cent of New Zealanders continue to have high levels of trust and confidence in Police – up from 72 per cent in 2008/2009
The focus on frontline policing and crime and crash prevention is undoubtedly paying off.
Yes, it's still important to react properly to crime – but, where possible, it is better to be proactive and prevent crime from happening in the first place, and to prevent members of the public from becoming victims of crime.
It is all about having the right people, in the right places, at the right time, with the right tools and skills to do the job.
So we have Neighbourhood Policing Teams out in communities with much higher Police visibility, working to prevent repeat victimisation.
Police are trialling new technology with mobile devices allowing officers to stay out on the front line and less time back at the station doing admin work. This new technology, involving smartphones, laptops and tablets, also means less doubling up on data entry and allows officers to share information immediately.
The time saved is allowing Police to reinvest frontline hours back into prevention.
And having seen the mobile devices in action and spoken to officers who use them, I know they are making a huge difference to policing.
I appreciate that all of the recent success has been achieved in the midst of great changes for the Police.
Change can be difficult, and that is especially so when there is no extra money available, or onto the near horizon.
Yes, there are challenges – but a good hard look at how to work smarter and better can be extremely beneficial.
And I believe that the crime statistics show we are already seeing the benefit of new ways of working, through Prevention First and Policing Excellence.
And Policing Excellence is due to be fully implemented by the end of June next year, so a lot of hard work lies ahead, including:
- The national roll out of the Victim Focus Framework by the end of the year
- The establishment of File Management Centres, Criminal Justice Support Units and Investigation Support Units in each district
- And completing the national roll out of the Crime Reporting Line. And having had the need to call the Crime Reporting Line myself a few months ago, I can personally vouch for what a great addition it is.
So there is more change to come. And we will remain completely focused on delivering the very best service we can for taxpayers.
The Prime Minister, John Key, has made it clear this Government has four priorities for this term.
The first is to responsibly manage the Government's finances.
Our second priority is to continue building a more competitive and productive economy, so we lift our economic performance and see more and better paid jobs.
We are also prioritising the rebuild of Christchurch and its surrounds, our second-largest city.
And our final priority is to deliver better public services to New Zealanders within tight financial constraints.
The public sector has to be more innovative, efficient and focused on delivering what New Zealanders really want and expect.
And let's remember – New Zealanders are also taxpayers, so in the end they pay the bills for the public service.
So the public expects and deserves a better-performing public service, for health, for education and for tackling crime and making our communities safer.
All government agencies will have to be constantly looking at how they can better deliver services - without increasing costs to the taxpayer.
So, to achieve that, the Prime Minister has identified 10 challenging results that he wants to see achieved over the next three to five years in the public service.
For the wider Justice Sector, these Better Public Service targets will result in 45,000 fewer crimes, 7,500 fewer violent crimes, and 600 fewer young people appearing in court each year from 2017.
The targets are to reduce overall crime by 15 per cent, violent crime by 20 per cent and youth crime, that is youth appearing in court, by 5 per cent over the next five years.
Fewer crimes means fewer victims of crime and safer communities.
Our targets are ambitious, but they are achievable.
I have every confidence in the Police to deliver on these targets, if not exceed them.
We have the people and the talent.
The Police have bold strategies which are already achieving success.
Public confidence in the Police is at an all-time high, while the crime rate is at a thirty-year low.
The latest Price Waterhouse Coopers report on the Police, prepared for the State Services Commission, describes the service as "impartial, corruption free, independent and high-performing."
It goes on to say that "no police organisation will ever be perfect, just as no society can ever be, but the record of performance and the culture of Police are something of which New Zealanders can be proud."
It's my pleasure to declare this conference open. I wish you well for the next few days of this event.
And – once again – thank you for the invitation to be with you.