New Zealand Police have begun removing speed detection radars from vehicles throughout the country in what frontline officers say is a cost-cutting measure that could also cost lives.
A police national headquarters spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that some radars had been removed from vehicles, as part of a "replacement programme".
However, the spokeswoman, Wellington Police District communications manager Kaye Calder, declined to say how many had already been taken out of the cars and whether they were all to be replaced.
It was "very early days" in the programme and police were looking at the overall distribution of speed detection equipment throughout New Zealand.
"Some of the equipment being used is nearing the end of its working life," Ms Calder said.
"It's too early to indicate any numbers involved or what it might mean."
Frontline officers told The Southland Times they had been told up to 400 Stalker detection units, which are leased, were to be removed from police vehicles as part of efforts to cut $21 million from the police operating budget.
They said officers using vehicles from which the radar sets had been removed were trying to do their jobs without them and they feared many speeding motorists would now escape without penalty.
However, Ms Calder said the Stalker radar was only one of the speed detection measures available to police.
The budget cuts already include measures to cut the police vehicle fleet by 10 per cent, more than 300 of the 3397 police vehicles nationwide.
The cuts were announced after May's Budget, which included a $160 million increase over four years to boost police numbers and operating capability.
Police Minister Judith Collins has said reducing spending would not lead to any cut in services. The money saved was being used to make more effective use of the vehicle fleet, for leave management, legal expenses and for administration of travel.
New Zealand Police Association president Greg O'Connor said yesterday he had not been made aware of any cuts to police speed detection equipment.
WHAT IS IT?
* The Stalker can tell the operator (police) which direction the target is travelling.
* It can track targets behind the police car.
* It can display two target speeds the fastest target, and the strongest signal.
* It has a claimed accuracy of plus or minus 3kmh when the car in which it is mounted is moving.