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Police funding crisis after Incis disaster

by Helen Bain in Wellington

The Incis police computer disaster is continuing to drain the resources of the police and they are lobbying Police Minister George Hawkins for more money, according to Acting Police Commissioner Rob Robinson.

Mr Robinson told Parliament's law and order committee yesterday that having to run the previous Wanganui computer and the first stage of Incis simultaneously was very expensive.

"To use an analogy, we've got a Mack truck running around town with a couple of parcels on the back," Mr Robinson said.

The police were struggling to cope within their budget of nearly $750 million for the 1999-2000 financial year, and had been meeting Mr Hawkins to discuss the funding pressures, he said.

Further pressure was added by industrial-relations problems which had halted savings which were to have been made through restructuring of the police, Mr Robinson said.

The previous police minister, Clem Simich, had been aware of the budget problems for some time, he said. Mr Robinson said the collapse of Incis, and the controversy surrounding the early retirement of former commissioner Peter Doone, had "clouded the horizon" for the police, but he wanted to brush the clouds away.

The police will meet Mr Hawkins again in the next few days to brief him on the details of the funding crisis. Mr Hawkins said there were a lot of things to consider before he could promise the police more money. "But I will be fighting for as much money as I possibly can," he said.

Mr Hawkins indicated that, as well as increased funding in the Budget for the next financial year, the Government might also have to give the police more money in the current year.

However, he hoped the police would be able to avoid a budget blow-out this year.

"I want to be as close as possible (to budget) but, having said that, I don't want the front line to be affected in any way," he said.

The funding pressures were caused by the previous Government's mishandling of Incis and the police review, Mr Hawkins said.


-- Carl Jenkins (, February 11, 2000

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