Have a Say - West Coast Police Service

Submitted by Tin Foil Goil on Mon, 14/03/2016 - 6:50am

From The West Coast Messenger
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Coast Community Comment

One of the things we all get used to on the West Coast is people from elsewhere having no real idea of the huge distances we have between places and people. Many's the time someone has suggested that I could just 'pop down' to Haast, say, (from my home in Greymouth) and I'm sure others have had the same experience.

Most of the time it's amusing, but when it comes from decision-makers and funders, it can have serious implications. I dealt with this all the time in health. The DHB's funding assumed average population densities and average travelling distances, and we are anything but average! To provide service at all in many areas requires a diseconomy of scale: the alternatives are no service (and unacceptable travel times) or services that cost more.

Which is why I am so angry about the proposed new service delivery model for the West Coast Police Area. It's clearly been written by someone who doesn't understand the first thing about the West Coast's geography, or who puts complying with the budget ahead of effective policing.

The very essence of community-based policing (including functions like Youth Aid) is that Police officers build relationships with the community they work in and serve. It is not possible to provide effective community-based policing by centralising services. The travel distances are too great, the community connections too weak. The points made by Search and Rescue about the risks of losing some of our more remote Police presence are also right on the mark. I know how important health services have found the Police officers in places like Karamea and South Westland. Apparently the Police District Commander doesn't understand that.

It may be that the West Coast needs more traffic policing. But, if so, this should be additional to the existing, effective community-based policing network, not instead of it. Yes that will cost more – welcome to our geography.

It's been great to see the submissions flooding in that have been copied to me – congratulations to you all on your great arguments. Submissions have closed now, but if you would like to have a say, and haven't yet, please send me your views and I will pass them on as I push the case in Wellington to retain our services.

And to West Coast Police officers – your work is highly valued by your community.
Thank you.

Green List MP Kevin Hague
(04) 817 8253
kevin [dot] hagueatgreens [dot] org [dot] nz

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