On the campaign trail in Auckland, National Party leader John Key announced his party's plan to increase police numbers by 600 by the end of 2011, with 300 to be allocated to high crime rate South Auckland and the other 300 to the rest of New Zealand.
Key criticised the Labour government for only adding 210 front-line officers since 2005 despite an agreement with NZ First to add 1000 front-line officers by mid 2009.
Official police statistics show that since the 2005 general election, the New Zealand Police have recruited 1250 officers of which more 500 are classified as front-line: 210 are assigned general duties, but a further 193 are assigned to fighting organized crime, and 133 others are assigned to traffic policing duties. A police spokesman suggests that some of the 273 community-policing officers could also be regarded as front-line officers.
The New Zealand Police are a national police force organized in 12 decentralized districts. While the force generally remains unarmed, batons may be carried while firearms are carried in limited circumstances by some officers assigned to particular squads or duties and may be carried in some police vehicles. Recently, tasers have been trialed by the New Zealand police and wider adoption of tasers by the police is likely.