A COUPLE of weeks ago, in his first major announcement of this election year, Prime Minister Bill English unveiled a significant government investment in police and the wider justice sector.
National is committed to reducing crime and keeping our communities safe.
The half-billion-dollar Safer Communities package will provide 1125 more police staff, including 880 sworn 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.
In particular the package recognises that more action is needed to protect women and children from crime, particularly at home.
The extra 1125 police staff mean officers can respond faster to callouts, wherever they are. This is especially good news for rural families, because it means 95 per cent of people will be within 25km of an around-the-clock police presence.
The investment also addresses the underlying drivers of crime through preventative work and more rehabilitation for prisoners.
And it supports young people to re-engage in education setting at-risk youth on a more productive path.
Critically, it includes funding for 74 additional specialist investigators to target serious offending against children too, as well as sexual assault and family violence.
Corrections and police are already working together to share information about family violence risks and to stop intergenerational violence. This package gives them extra funding to do more of this.
We are determined that this significant investment will genuinely keep women, their families and the wider communities safer. That's why the package includes some challenging targets, including that police will contribute to 10 per cent fewer deaths from family violence, a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by Maori, and more than 90 per cent of 111 emergency calls will be answered within 10 seconds.
The Safer Communities package builds on the work National has done to reduce family violence. Last year, we announced a major overhaul of family violence laws, supported by an investment of $130 million over four years. The changes included making the safety of victims a principal consideration in all bail decisions and central to parenting and property orders; enforcing tougher penalties for people who commit crimes while subject to a protection order; and creating new offences of non-fatal strangulation and assault on a family member - with tougher sentences than common assault.
Tackling family violence is difficult and complex. But as the Prime Minister said, we are not here to shy away from the tough issues. By focusing on specific areas in this 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 and fewer deaths from family violence.
The targets won't be easy to meet - but we are committed to doing what we can 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 is an outcome worth investing in.