Dozens of associates of New Zealand's most notorious gangs have tried to enlist as recruits in the police in recent years, the Police Association says.
Police Association president Greg O'Connor said at a conference this morning that police have weeded out dozens of gang associates from applicants over the past four or five years.
Police National Headquarters confirmed to ONE News there had been isolated incidents of gang affiliates trying to enlist but there was no evidence of a deliberate strategy.
However, O'Connor claims it is "absolutely" a deliberate
The union is calling on Police Minister Anne Tolley to soften a freeze on police spending.
O'Connor says the funding freeze means police have to find $200 million in the next two years.
"And with no money in the bank, gang associates could beat the system as recruiting operations are centralised and taken away from regional stations.
"People who come into the stations wanting to join police are known to locals, and they are very quickly informally screened."
But Tolley has confirmed there is no new money for police.
Figures released earlier this month show crime dropped by 5% compared to last year, an all-time low. And the Minister says police have to work smarter and with better technology to keep those numbers.
She says she does not believe it will deteriorate over the next few years.
But the union says gangs will cash in on the police funding freeze.
Labour's police spokesperson Kris Faafoi said the Police Association's concerns need to be taken seriously.
"When the head of our Police Association raises the alarm about budget constraints adversely impacting the police recruitment process, we should listen," he said.
Faafoi said there is evidence that gang members are becoming more tech savvy.
"Budget cuts and staff cuts are leaving our police more vulnerable and are loading pressure on the front-line.
"All the while we are told gangs are buffering their numbers and broadening their base."