PM meets demands: Extra police and more parliamentary private secretaries from ethnic communities to allay concerns of migrants

It was at this meeting that the PM announced the appointment of National List MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to assist Minister of Police Paula Bennett. Jitender Sahi, who is the secretary of the Group in Canterbury, noted, “This annoucement is indicative of the value the National Party puts on the contributions of the Indian community in New Zealand.”

In October, the then Minister of Police Judith Collins told this newspaper that the then Prime Minister John Key would be announcing something big on police numbers soon. She was in Christchurch to attend an open forum organised to address the issue of spike in aggravated robberies targeting dairies and liquor stores, which are mainly owned and operated by migrants.

Three months is a very long time in politics. Now neither Collins is the minister in-charge for police affairs, nor is Key the PM. But the annoucement did came.

On February 2, Prime Minister announced that another 1125 police staff, including 880 sworn police officers, will be funded over the next four years to reduce crime and prevent reoffending.

“New Zealand is the fourth-safest country in the world, but demand for traditional police services is growing, and complex and serious crime is absorbing more police time," he said.

“The Safer Communities package announced today will enable police to put more time, effort and resources into working alongside other agencies with at-risk individuals and communities.”

The Government's $503 million package has three components: targeting and catching offenders, preventing crime and victimisation, and delivering a more responsive service. It also includes extra funding for the wider justice sector. The package will increase total police staff numbers to more than 13,000 from 11,925 by June 2021 and total sworn police numbers to nearly 9800 from about 8900.

The first recruits will begin training in July and hit the beat in November.

“Evidence tells us that if we want to reduce offending we need to address the underlying drivers of dysfunction rather than just respond to the symptoms. This package shows that we are prepared to invest up front in programmes that deliver results," the PM added.

Parliamentary private secretaries

Meanwhile, the PM, noting the need to give ethnic communities a strong voice in the Government, has appointed several List MPs of ethnic origins as parliamentary private secretaries to assist ministers with ethnic communities and police portfolios.  

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi [Indian background] has been appointed as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to assist the Minister of Police. Melissa Lee [Korean background] is re-appointed as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Ethnic Communities Minister, whileJian Yang [Chinese background] will join her in that role.

“Ms Melissa Lee has done a great job in this role already and having Dr Yang join her will ensure our ethnic communities have a strong voice in the Government. Keeping all of our communities safe is a priority of this Government and Mr Bakshi will help the Minister of Police in this regard," noted the PM while announcing the appointments.