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Budget woes mean country short of police

Saturday 7 January 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Crime, National

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Budget woes mean country short of police
Ten graduating members of the Ratu Isoa Waka Recruit Wing took the Police Oath on March 4, 2022. They were part of the last officer intake in November 2021. POLICE MEDIA/23010644

Cook Islands Police continue to wrestle with staffing shortages as finances are stretched.

The Cook Islands Police Service is hoping to recruit more police officers.

However, paying them remains an issue.

Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said they had planned to initiate a recruitment process before the end of last year, but this was not possible due to financial issues.

Police had been coping with major constraints in personnel for some time, he said. 

The last officer intake in November 2021 was the first in two years where 10 trainees, eight men and two women, undertook a 13-week recruit training programme.

The difficulty has been matching available funding with the vacant positions, consistent with the department’s organisational structure, Pitt says. 

“Staffing has been under pressure to meet certain demands in specific areas of need. 

“We need targeted help in these areas but have been told there will be no budgetary increases.”

Pitt says resolving human resources constraints is a critical area for future policing. 

“Plans to kick off the recruitment remain in place for an intake of up to 15.”

Earlier last year, around 10 recruits joined the police force – three of them non-Cook Islanders.

Pitt has repeatedly acknowledged there is an ongoing problem with police resources after he revealed there was a recruitment process being finalised to fill gaps in the department in October 2021.

Turnover of staff was a contributing factor, as was remuneration, while some staff members had moved to other government departments, Pitt said.

Paper licences

Cook Islands Police are continuing to issue paper driver’s licences.

Police spokesperson Pitt said this is due to a prolonged wait for the card supplies. 

Pitt said he did not know how long this situation would last or when the card would arrive.

It was earlier reported that Cook Islands Police issues more than 500 visitor driver licences each month and more than 400 for residents.

The Police Licencing Office has been issuing paper licences temporarily due to the depletion of card stock.

Pitt earlier said this has been an ongoing problem, with the supply of cards and colour print ribbon running out every few months.

He added the licensing office could not afford to buy more stock due to a lack of money.