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Police defend PM's security spending

Thursday 27 Dec 2012 6:06p.m.

Police defend PM's security spending

There's been another budget blowout for the Diplomatic Protection Squad, the police unit responsible for protecting the Prime Minister and other dignitaries.

It overspent by more than a million dollars in the last financial year.

No-one questions the need for personal protection when you're running the country, but Labour says that shouldn't be at the expense of keeping everyone else safe.

“It's going to come from somewhere else in the budget and that's frontline services that affect ordinary everyday New Zealanders,” says Labour MP Chris Hipkins.

Police say there are good reasons for the blow out.

“The financial year of 2011/2012 was quite a busy year for the Diplomatic Protection Squad around the election and the Rugby World Cup,” says Superintendent Barry Taylor.

But Mr Hipkins says Mr Key's holiday trips have contributed to the total cost of $5.2 million dollars to the taxpayer - $1.1 million over budget.

“Part of that is that John Key has regular holidays to Hawaii where he takes his security guards.”

Police say increasing travel and accommodation costs don't help, however Justice Minister Judith Collins says the spending is justified.

“My concern would be if they didn't take action and someone here was killed or severely injured, then we'd run around saying why didn't we do more?”

Mr Hipkins says the budget-busting didn't happen under Labour.

“Helen Clark I don't think had huge numbers of people swarming around Parliament following her around when she was the Prime Minister. John Key seems to have an awful lot more.”

Figures show the amount spent on diplomatic protection has risen $1.4 million under National, going from around $3.8 million in 2007/2008 to $5.2 million in 2011/2012.

However police won't provide a breakdown of the figures, fearing it could compromise the Prime Minister's security.

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