A police recruitment freeze?

Written By: - Date published: 9:54 pm, November 23rd, 2011 - 43 comments
Categories: law - Tags: , ,

I’ve never seen a new story break in a leaders debate before but tonight Phil Goff broke the news of the government’s secret plan to freeze police recruitment.

Looking at Key’s response I suspect that this recruiting freeze and the plan to keep it on the down-low are true.

That’s significantly at odds with the National government’s tough on crime and no cuts to the front-line claims and, coupled with the claim of a pre-election cover-up, it goes to the integrity of the claims National is selling itself with.

Also, Espiner’s move to shift the debate on before Key gave a proper response is simply bad journalism.

I can understand that he was probably thrown by the claim and wanted to maintain control of his show but I would have thought that TVNZ’s political editor would have had the nous to recognise a good story and let if play for just another half a minute – that would have been enough to get Key’s reaction without unsettling the debate.

Update: 726 Police staff left the job last year, of a workforce of 11,984. So, a freeze on replacement cops would see hundreds fewer on the job after just one year.

43 comments on “A police recruitment freeze?”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Couldn’t help but notice how Guyon shut Goff down very, very fast on this one.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Goff should have been much harder on this point, wresting time off Espiner. Just watched the first 20 mins of the debate on line, and feel that while Goff did well, he let Key get away with too much BS (which literally was every other word).

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Key was very slogan-heavy, particularly around some answers. Would have been nice for Goff to point that out.

      I think Goff hardly ever answered with slogans.

      • freedom 2.1.1

        i did notice the number of unemployed in 2008 had become 17,000 when on Monday it was 18,000 🙂

        To be fair though, up against Key’s “labour left NZ with hundreds of billions in debt” from RNZ interview this a.m., it seems kind of insignificant.

        A lot of people are going to want very clear answers to the Police issue that has been raised
        including the guys and girls who had planned to begin the next few rosters

        I believe Goff did the smart thing, pull the pin and walk away, leaving this one to do all the damage on its own. I missed the actual comment as i had left the room momentarily, but from all accounts Goff played it well, and tomorrow there is plenty of time for the media to pay attetion. If they go mute, then the citizen media is already well aware of it and by Friday this little detail will be a very large edifice that will be difficult to ignore. More so if there is any truth that National directed the Police to remain silent on the issue.

        • Blighty 2.1.1.1

          the low point was just under 17,500 in May. But if you want to say what it was in June 2008, which Goff did on Monday, it was about 17,700. so, he was right both times.

          What’s the unemployment benefit number now? Oh, yeah …..

          • freedom 2.1.1.1.1

            i included that before a RWNJ tried to make out it was important and we were hiding things 🙂

        • Hami Shearlie 2.1.1.2

          Can we doubt it? Add up the things the Nats are trying to keep secret. Teapot tape, Asset Sales reports, future Police numbers, details of the TPP trade agreement with USA – and that’s just the ones we KNOW they are trying to hide – there must be many, many more. Pretty shifty behaviour – and they’ve only been there 3 years! Love to see the video being kept hidden about Richard Worth too!

        • CnrJoe 2.1.1.3

          and police have so much spare time on their hands these national govt days

    • RedLogix 2.2

      Goff has had to tread a very tight line between taking the fight to Key, and creating opportunities for the media to slag him for being ‘negative’ and ‘playing the man and not the policies’.

      It’s all a slimy media game of course… but frankly I’ve been pleasantly impressed at how well Goff has campaigned despite it. Everyone has had a go at dumping shit on the man in the last three years. Even I’m on record for being less than enthusiastic about him. I always respected Goff as a capable, experienced Minister, and always hoped he would be part of a future Labour govt… yet for a long period he wasn’t firing; letting Key set and dominate the agenda. And it hasn’t helped that Key’s govt has had a lot of good political luck go it’s way. Plenty of events that had the potential to hurt them badly, have nicely turned to the Nat’s favour.

      Having said that… in this last few months Goff”s come into his own. To quote a tired phrase, he now looks ‘prime-ministerial’. Given that he’s started from well behind Goff has played the cards dealt to him with dignity and passion. Campaigning has brought out the best in Goff, while it’s shown Key up in a far less flattering light.

      Few govts are overturned after just one term, and Key’s brand, carefully constructed as it is, remains very, very popular in the electorate. Will the left win this election? I’d still be surprised. But frankly if we lose it will be with dignity; no-one will need to say that we didn’t do our best to turn around a massive electoral momentum against us.

      • Colonial Viper 2.2.1

        But frankly if we lose it will be with dignity; no-one will need to say that we didn’t do our best to turn around a massive electoral momentum against us.

        If Labour lose on Saturday, nothing changes – the battle continues.

        This time to fight and delay National’s second term agenda to a bleeding standstill, and to ensure that John Key is the most unpopular Prime Minister in recent memory by this time next year.

    • Hami Shearlie 2.3

      Words and phrases I now HATE:

      Ass-pirational(heard this word so damn much over 3 years, it’s sure gone stale)
      Ekshully
      So(to start a sentence)
      In my view
      Let me just say this
      Arcane – it means mysterious -so John Key thinks maori seats are mysterious? It may not be as dennimik, but the word Key was searching for is archaic?

  3. Dean Reynolds 3

    Irish Bill – can someone at The Standard tell me why the hell The Standard is carrying propaganda from the right wing, Vote for Change arseholes, promoting their shitty SM voting option? The Standard’s editorial stance is to support MMP, the most democratic option – why are you promoting the view of the Business Roundtable?

    [our judgement on taking ads from organisations we don’t agree with is it’s much simpler to trust the wisdom of our readers and take the bastards’ money than try to reach a collective decision over every ad. We donate the Keep MMP campaign ad space for free. Eddie]

    • Jared 3.1

      Google Adsense im guessing? The same way Kiwiblog is showing Labour advertisements.
      Deal with it.

      • lprent 3.1.1

        I didn’t notice until after midnight. But I couldn’t let it lie. Take their money because they’d only use it for some other nefarious purpose. Respond in an appropriate manner.

        How do you like the logo for the next couple of days?

    • RedLogix 3.2

      Personally I never notice ads…

    • I say let them advertise and take their money. Their crap advertising will not persuade any of the sophisticated intelligent people who read the Standard.

  4. infused 4

    One word. adblock

  5. Afewknowthetruth 5

    A drop in police numbers provides additional opportunities for privatisation or for corporations to profit from ‘security’.

    It always pays to look at the big picture or look for the hidden agenda.

    Talking of the big picture, I still cannot understand why anyone thinks current economic-financial arrangements will persist much beyond the end of next year:

    ‘Numbness mixed with panic settled over Washington following the admission of defeat by the bipartisan super-committee formed in August to find ways to cut federal spending by $1.3 trillion over 10 years. The legacy of its failure promises to be complicated. All sides darted in different directions to start the blame game. In New Hampshire, President Barack Obama appealed to Congress at least to extend middle-class tax breaks that are set to expire, while runners for the Republican presidential nomination excoriated him for a failure of leadership in another debate.

    If there is panic it is partly because the terms under which the committee was created stipulated that, in the event of its failure, a swathe of cuts would automatically come in to effect to achieve the same reduction in spending. They are due to begin biting in January 2013 and hold terror….’

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/can-america-escape-its-13-trillion-black-hole-6266366.html

    The annual federal deficit is of the order of $15 trillion and total underfunded US liabilities are estimated at well over $200 trillion.

    Then there is the global derivatives market awaiting implosion.

    The horrendous global financial mess is topped off by peak oil, which is flagged to result in a significant decline in global energy supplies from 2010 or 2011 onwards.

  6. hoom 6

    Was intriguing to see Keys response.
    Initially a startled ‘I wouldn’t necessarily trust what Goff says’
    But when pushed ‘Thats an operational matter for the Police’ aka yes but in a dinnamic way.

  7. Carol 7

    I’m now in wait-and-see-how-it-plays-out mode for the elections and aftermath. With the world set for an uncertain and turbulent period being in government. It may not bode well for a government without a very strong mandate for a new left wing direction.

    I really have no firm opinion the election outcome. It is possible National will get an outright majority, which would be the worst possible outcome. They would do vast damage to the country. But it’s also possible that the left could put a halt to that by winning the numbers for Labour to lead a coalition government.

    But it’s also very possible to end up with this scenario:

    http://www.norightturn.blogspot.com/2011/11/let-em-swing.html

    In such circumstances, it would be better for the Greens to simply stand back and let National swing. A National government hamstrung with Winston achieves some of their policy aims (e.g. stopping asset sales) without their having to lift a finger. Meanwhile, they can pursue an MOU and cooperate on areas they feel comfortable with, while helping to block any legislation they don’t. Not as effective as being in government, but a lot safer, and with a hefty dose of schadenfreude into the bargain.

    Meanwhile, a resurgent left, evident in this campaign, with Mana, Labour, the Greens etc, would have time to gain in strength and develop new directions in the face of the on-going global crisis.

  8. Carol 8

    Repeating some of what I just posted on open mike:

    National cheerleader Tacy Watkins, gives the debate to Goff…. well kinda… she first says Goff scored the “knock-out punch” when he dropped in the question about National secretely planning to cut police numbers. But in Watkins’ final line she calls it “an even match”.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/campaign-trail/6023331/Goff-saves-best-till-last-in-TV-debates

    Last night, Mr Goff hit back with a handy right hook. And his opponent didn’t even see it coming.

    The Labour leader wound up for the sucker punch innocently enough, leaning across to Mr Key to ask him in typically earnes Phil Goff fashion whether he believed the extra 1250 frontline police hired under Labour had contributed to falling crime rates.

    Mr Key wasn’t going to let that one pass without a quick jab back at Mr Goff, of course reminding him that under National 600 more frontline police had been hired.

    That left the door wide open for Mr Goff to stroll in with his next question: Was that why police had made a decision to defer all recruiting next year a decision which they had been told to keep secret till after the election?

    Mr Key responded with the usual politician’s answer – those sorts of decisions were “operational”, but there was no doubt that Police Minister Judith Collins had asked police to make savings.

    The prime minister looked increasingly uncomfortable.

    […]
    The real Phil Goff finally emerged from behind the automaton-like character that turned voters off for the previous three years. They had a chance to judge him as a person, not just a politician
    […]
    And at the end they shook hands, an even match.

    BTW, at the end, when Guyon thanked the studio audience, Goff partly turned to look at and acknowledge the audience. But Key kept looking straight ahead, totally uninterested in the audience. A telling moment, I thought.

  9. National’s response:

    Police recruits not needed due to high retention – National

    The National Party says the cancellation of next year’s January intake of new police recruits is not a freeze on recruitment.

    National’s law and order spokesperson Judith Collins says there are so few people leaving the police at the moment that the January intake of recruits is not needed.

    She says the first intake next year will be in March instead.

    Ms Collins says there will be no reduction in frontline police numbers under a National Government

    Deliberate misleading? Or Goff had poor advice?

    • lprent 9.1

      Unlikely.

      Most electorate politicians pick up contacts in the police quite early (part of the constituent work). Goff has always been perceived to be a bit of a law’n’order type person inside the party – so he will have more than the usual quota. Senior politicians tend to have senior contacts.

      I’d say that he is hearing a leak either direct to him or from a senior politician (his deputy Annette King used to be minister of police).

    • higherstandard 9.2

      I suspect Goff had advice from a reliable source it’s just that said source added two and two and got seven.

      It will just depend on whether the media slate him over getting it wrong, who knows I suspect most of the population are fed up to the back teeth with stories on politicians and the election and that most have made up their mind who to vote/not vote for.

      Must be time for the prediction thread on the standard for people to put their reputations on the line.

    • From TVNZ:

      Goff’s police freeze claim rubbished by National
      Collins said she watched the debate and was very concerned by the claim and sought clarification.

      “I telephoned the Police Commissioner Peter Marshall who knew nothing about these allegations,” she said.

      “What Mr Marshall said to me was because the number of people leaving the police is so low now, the January police recruitment wing is going to be a March recruitment wing and that’s because we’ve had almost 300 new police in the last four months of this year and they don’t need new police recruitment until March.”

      She said there would be no reduction in front line officers but the police were constantly reviewing costs after they were given no new money in the Budget.

      Key seemed genuinely surprised by Goff’s claim. So did Goff tsake a punt and put to much weight on a rumour?

      • Pete

        Rather than parroting National lines how about checking out the facts and making an informed decision.

        Goff talked about a freeze. The nats have agreed that the January intake has been cancelled. This will mean through attrition that numbers will go down at a time when the population is increasing.

        • Pete George 9.3.1.1

          Goff claimed a freeze for the whole year. Delaying the next intake from January to March suggests his information was wrong, or worse. They say attrition is lower than expected.

          Do you have actual numbers to dispute that?

    • Tom Gould 9.4

      Seems Goff was correct, they are cutting the budget and cutting recruitment. Now for the spin. It is operational. It is not a cut. The cops have never been happier. There are more cops than ever. So have they got ‘too much spare time on their hands’? Well, yes and no. Yes if you ask MonKey and no if you ask Crusher. Even arch-Tory O’connor is now saying the cops budget is being cut by 5 to 15 percent, and 80 percent of spending is personnel, but he is “relieved” by his buddy Crusher’s “reassurances” that cutting the budget will really mean more money and more people. Problem solved in Toryland.

  10. ianmac 10

    Remarkable that Collins had to appear on RNZ, nostrils flaring, to defend the cuts and saying that because retention was so high they had no need to run the January intake. By the figures above the loss is 6%. Seems funny Judith that so quickly you can cut back on frontline staff?

  11. jaundiced 11

    It seems Mr Goff may have been misled by his sources:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/policies/6023626/National-Goff-police-recruitment-claim-wrong
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10768312

    Both these sites say that because the police attrition rate is so low now, few people are leaving police and the January intake is now deferred to be a March intake.

    Judith Collins says “By the end of this year we will have 600 extra frontline police and we expect to maintain those levels.”

    This is not a freeze on recruiting and is at odds with the claims made by Mr Goff last evening.

    [have you got a source other than Collins for there being 600 extra cops? because the police annual report says its 442, and 362 of them were in 2008/09 – Labour’s last budget. Seems like National’s lying to you again. Eddie]

    • freedom 11.1

      Jaundiced,
      Tony Ryall has been saying there have been 800 new doctors too, but we know that is only recycled employment and fiddling with job titles. The number of Doctors is basically the same as when National came to power.
      “”But people working at the frontline haven’t seen any evidence of Mr Ryall’s ‘ghost’ doctors, and they are the ones you would expect to know about these things.”
      http://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/un-doctored/2011/november-2011/18/tony-ryall-produces-ghost-doctors.aspx

    • jaundiced 11.2

      Eddie

      Judith Collins says “By the end of this year we will have 600 extra frontline police is a forward-looking statement of what is anticipated in the future.

      The police annual report is reporting on past recruiting – that’s a historical statement.

      The comparison you make about historical manning levels is not relevant to Judith Collins comments nor to my own observation that Mr Goff may have been fed misleading information.

      And no – I don’t have a source other than Judith Collins comments as reported in the MSM – but by the same token do you have a source other than Mr Goff that recruiting will be frozen for all of next year? That claim has been rubbished by National and as the subject of police recruiting is in the public interest perhaps we should know who has misled Mr Goff.

  12. Ed 12

    It appears that the information Goff received was correct, but Collins has been forced to talk down the prospect of deferrals after January, and importantly forced a hasty commitment to retain current numbers of “front-line” officers, which will have pleased O’Connor. He hinted at the impossibility of the force complying with both retention of officer numbers and teh cuts that police have been asked to make.

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