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Target for 1800 police 'aspirational', says Police Minister as only 650 recruited

Only 650 officers have been added to New Zealand's police force as the Government's target of 1800 in three years looms. Responding to criticism from the Opposition today, the Police Minister described the 1800 figure as "aspirational". 

The Government's target was to add 1800 police in three years before the 2020 election. Police Minister Stuart Nash estimates 650 have been added so far. 

National says the Government has "absolutely no chance of reaching that target".

"New Zealanders around the country will be disappointed at yet another broken promise by a hopeless and incompetent Government that talks big, but can't deliver," National MP Chris Bishop said. 

Labour election policy was for another 1000 police. However, the goal rose to 1800 in the party's coalition agreement with New Zealand First. 

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Seventy-eight new officers for our biggest city were sworn in today. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Ardern's speech from the throne in 2017 indicated the Government would add another 1800 police "as part of keeping our society safe". 

"We're going as hard and as fast as we can," Mr Nash said today. "We've put a hell of a lot more into our communities, making a big difference." 

When asked if it would be disappointing if the Government were not to meet the target, Mr Nash said it wouldn't.

"I don't think training 900 police and giving them out into our communities is a failure in any way, shape or form," he said.

The Government still intends to work "incredibly hard" to hit the target, he said, but he described the goal as "aspirational". 

"This is an aspirational Government," he added.

"What I do know is that we're training them as fast as we can because we understand we have to rebuild the New Zealand police service."