In the fast-moving dynamic environment, we operate in, we want our people to be safe and feel safe every day they come to work. That means having the right tools, training, and support to do their job safely and effectively.
In 2020 the Frontline Safety Improvement Programme (FSIP) was established in response to the murder of Constable Matthew Hunt and against the background of an increasingly challenging operational policing environment.
FSIP’s focus is to keep our frontline safe as they undertake the daily challenges of delivering policing services across New Zealand.
The improvements coming out of the programme are the result of ongoing staff feedback and community engagement.
In September 2021, Police announced the Tactical Response Model (TRM). The TRM is a safety system that ensures Police are trained, equipped, and supported to keep ourselves and our communities safe.
In developing the TRM Police engaged with Māori, Pacific, Ethnic and other community leaders through 570 community engagement sessions including Police’s External Reference Groups at local and national level.
Police held around 85 workshops with more than 1250 staff about their experiences and ideas to improve staff safety. Proactive engagement with staff continued through Proof-of-Concept trials and a formal evaluation of the model including two staff safety surveys which attracted more than 2000 responses each.
Engagement with our people and communities is ongoing.
The Tactical Response Model is designed to increase frontline capability through three integrated components:
- Training: we have more than doubled current tactical training to frontline staff from 3.5 to 7.5 days per year.
- Deployment: with a focus on staff safety and risk ownership Deployment includes Tactical Intelligence, Tasking and Coordination and District Command Centre activities.
- Tactical capability: specialist capability is more accessible to frontline staff through two new teams – prevention focused Offender Prevention Teams and Tactical Dog Teams who operate as part of the frontline and as first responders.
In 2022 we completed a successful trial of the Model in Northland, Counties Manukau, Waikato and Central.
The Evidence Based Policing Centre ran an evaluation of the TRM trial. That formal evaluation showed the TRM worked. Each component produced safety benefits, but the greatest impact happened when all the parts operate together as a safety system.
The results of the trial and ongoing support from communities gave us confidence to begin a progressive rollout of the model nationally in 2023. Implementation is expected to continue until the end of the year.
How it will look
The policing the public will see under the TRM will be the same as what they see now, but those causing most harm in our communities will feel the difference. Police remains an unarmed service.
Police engaged with staff, iwi, and the wider community to gain feedback to support any refinements which would ensure the success of this model in practice.
Public feedback was welcomed over a four-week engagement period as we want to make sure this works in our communities and that people understand what we are doing to keep them and their communities safe.
Consultation has now closed and feedback is being considered.
Tactical Response Model: Evaluation Report shows positive impact
An evaluation of the Tactical Response Model (TRM) by the Evidence Based Policing Centre shows the trial phase recorded fewer assaults and injuries to frontline staff, and fewer incidents requiring use of force.
The Tactical Response Model is a key component of the larger Frontline Safety Improvement Programme. The TRM is a complete safety system created with, and for, frontline Police and the communities they serve.
Running in trial format in four districts – Northland, Counties-Manukau, Waikato and Central – since November 2021, TRM provides enhanced tactical training, improved frontline access to specialist capability, and a risk-based deployment and intelligence framework.
Between 1 January and 30 June this year, the Evidence-Based Policing Centre evaluated the model, focussing on how it was implemented within districts and whether it improved the safety and wellbeing of Police staff and the public.
The report is available here.
Research into tactical options in the current policing environment
Below are the findings from an insights and evidence brief – Appropriate Tactical Settings – of tactical options, including research into the general arming of Police and the potential impacts of any change to tactical options.
The research was first undertaken following the death of Constable Matthew Hunt in 2020, to identify how we could best keep our people safe, while also delivering a Police service New Zealanders expect and deserve. The report was reviewed this year to ensure any new international research was considered and the findings updated accordingly. It has also been independently reviewed by Justice Sector Chief Science Advisor Professor Ian Lambie, who advised it provided an accurate account of the data and literature available.
The evidence indicates that routine arming of Police could increase risks to public safety and the number of people shot, rather than improving safety of Police and the public. It is inconclusive about whether it would make our staff safer.
It was found that offenders’ firearm use against Police does not appear to be influenced by whether Police are armed or unarmed. It also found that New Zealand Police continues to rely on other tactical options to resolve events, even when the threshold for use of firearms is met.
The findings also suggest that routine arming could negatively impact the relationship between Police and some members of the public. The way we currently police and engage with the public has safety benefits for us all.
Some other jurisdictions that don’t have general arming do have specialist firearms roles in Police to support their frontline and public safety. Our new Tactical Response Model will improve frontline access to specialist capability, as well as enhanced tactical training.
The report found there are four areas where Police has the opportunity to improve our understanding:
- The safety perception of staff – to obtain information from the frontline about factors that contribute to that perception.
- Data capture – how Police records and collects information would benefit from a joint understanding between Police and the Police Association.
- Tactical alerts and intelligence – improving up-to-date information for staff particularly relating to vehicles, given the high number of vehicle stops and fleeing drivers, and the fact that these account for 84 percent of firearms presentations and discharges at Police since 2019.
- Better communication between frontline staff attending incidents and Emergency Communications Centres – to ensure good decision making for the safety of both officers and the public.
These opportunities for improvement are all addressed as part of Police’s new Tactical Response Model. The style of policing in New Zealand is one we don’t want to lose. Our connection with our communities supports the ability of our staff to do their jobs safely, and to protect our communities.
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