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Police union wants action on illegal guns

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/06/2017

The Police Association doesn't think the government is doing enough to help tackle the illegal firearms problems in New Zealand.

Illegal firearms pose danger to members of the public and police officers, the 2017 election year policy document, launched on Thursday, outlines.

Association president Chris Cahill says he wants to let New Zealanders know about constant reports he gets from officers who find, or are confronted by, illegal firearms during routine policing.

An Independent Police Conduct Authority ruling over the armed offenders squad being justified in shooting a Hamilton gunman - whose shotgun didn't go off when he pulled the trigger - was a perfect example, he said.

On Wednesday another office came across a man who was found to have a revolver, a sawn-off shotgun and meth in his car during a routine traffic stop in Onehunga, Auckland.

"It is as if they don't believe what is really happening out on the frontlines," he says.

"It's why we are so critical of the government's decision to reject key recommendations from the select committee report into issues relating to the illegal possession of firearms."

While the association is pleased with the government's increase of police numbers, by the time the 880 extra officers are all in place by 2021, the population-to-police ratio will be little better than it is today.

The association wants political parties to increase pressure on organised crime and gangs and focus on processes that will ensure better records of how many firearms there are in New Zealand, and who has them.

"We need to be smarter in how we allocate resources and target crime. We know that simply doing more of the same with extra resources is not a viable strategy, and we know that waiting for policing to reach breaking point before paying it due attention is seriously damaging to the welfare of police officers," Mr Cahill said.

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