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In his first major announcement of election year the Prime Minister has unveiled a significant Government investment in police and the wider justice sector to reduce crime and keep our communities safe.

The half-billion dollar Safer Communities package will provide an extra 1125 police staff, including 880 sworn police officers.

All police districts will receive extra frontline officers with the Police deciding how many will go where, based on need. The first recruits will begin training in July and hit the beat in November.

Regional New Zealand will benefit from a bigger police presence on our streets. Crime is a major issue which we have been tackling. The total number of offences in the Wairarapa region decreased from 1737 in 2014/15 down to 1617 in 2015/16. That is a 6.9 per cent decrease and with the extra resources from this announcement we can expect the number of offences to go down even further.

Wairarapa residents will benefit from a bigger police presence on our street. Crime is a major issue which we have been tackling. The total number of offences in the Wairarapa region decreased from 1737 in 2014/15 down to 1617 in 2015/16. That is a 6.9 per cent decrease and with extra officers on the street we can expect the number of offences to go down even further.

New Zealand is the fourth-safest country in the world, but we want to make it number one.

This package unashamedly targets offenders to ensure they are off our streets – by providing additional resources to resolve more crime and target criminal gangs and organised crime.

The 880 extra frontline police officers will work in areas where we know they’re needed. This includes 500 to go out on the beat and into community policing. Those officers will improve the speed of police to attend emergencies. They will also focus on youth offending, burglaries, and community crime.

Knowing there’s a nearby police presence at all times is something the community expects. We’re making a commitment that people in cities, the regions, and rural areas will have officers they can call on 24/7.

Regional and ethnic communities get more support which is great news for Wairarapa. Another 140 officers will focus on regional and rural policing, meaning 95 per cent of New Zealanders are within 25 kilometres of 24/7 police support, every day of the year. As well as 20 additional ethnic liaison officers will support Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic communities and businesses to stop crime in these communities.

There will be more specialist investigators in the areas of child protection, sexual assault, and family violence. And more officers will target organised crime.

We’re also providing additional resources to address the underlying drivers of crime – through preventative work by the Police and greater investment in rehabilitation for prisoners.

By focusing on specific areas in this wide-ranging policy we will deliver a more responsive police service, prevent crime and victimisation, resolve more crimes, and more effectively target criminal gangs and organised crime.

The package also comes with a range of challenging targets for the Police. Those include higher attendance at home burglaries, more assets seized from organised crime, fewer deaths from family violence, and a reduction in reoffending by Māori.

The targets won’t be easy to meet – but we don’t shy away from hard issues.

We’re here to make a difference. Investing more in police will make our communities safer. It will reduce crime and reoffending, and help steer some of our most disadvantaged young people onto a more productive path.

That’s an outcome worth investing in.

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