Police warn against rural volunteer cops, but Government not ruling it out

Police officials are strongly against any move to set up a volunteer rural constabulary, saying volunteers could expose the public and themselves to significant risk. 

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But the Government’s not so sure, with the Police Minister still refusing to rule the idea out. Source: 1 NEWS

However, the Government is not ruling it out. 

Documents obtained by 1 NEWS show the police have major concerns with the proposal and are advising the Government to not go ahead. 

In a briefing paper to Police Minister Stuart Nash, it says: "Recruiting volunteers to undertake policing operations and apply police powers comes with a range of significant risks for the community and the volunteers.

"It may also be perceived by the public and the unions as 'policing on the cheap'. These risks would be exacerbated in rural communities where volunteers may operate with relatively low levels of constabulary support."

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Critics argue it's a dangerous idea and police should just put more paid and trained officers in the countryside. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Nash told 1 NEWS the Government first wants to assess the impact of the roll out of new police before a rural constabulary is looked at.

"We're rolling out 1800 new officers out around the country, including a number to our provincial and rural areas," he said. 

The coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First sets out an investigation into the feasibility of a volunteer rural constabulary programme.

Despite it being in the coalition agreement, NZ First's Ron Mark said he had yet to see any reports or updates. 

National's police spokesperson, Brett Hudson, said it could make life "tougher" and could increase risk for people in rural communities. 

"We don't need some sort of rogue vigilantes roaming around our provinces and rural areas thinking they're coppers," he said.

The idea of volunteer cops were seriously considered during the Springbok protests in the '80s, but they were not deployed. They were also used during the Depression in the 1930s. 

Police Association's Chris Cahill said in the current day, the idea could come with "a lot of risks, health and safety risks, training risks".