11/01/2019 3:00:00 p.m.
11 January 2010
ON PATROL: Above from left – Rotorua Lakes Council Safe City Guardian Marcelle Morrison, Rotorua Police Constable Marc Van Krieken, Watchdog Security staff member Trevayze Wairepo and VR Security staff member Hemiora Riki patrolling the CBD.
A joint Rotorua Lakes Council and police safety campaign is having a positive impact in reducing and deterring anti-social behaviour and crime in the central city.
The aim is to provide a safe and friendly inner city environment for businesses, their staff and the public through increased patrols and CCTV monitoring to deter anti-social and criminal behaviour and deal promptly with any emerging issues or incidents that do occur.
Since 11 December Police, security staff and the Safe City Guardians have increased their presence in the inner city and are patrolling together whenever possible with patrols constant between 8am and 4am daily. There has since been a noticeable reduction in anti-social and criminal behaviour in the CBD with very positive feedback from both members of the public and businesses.
Police and Council jointly launched the summer safety initiative in December following increased concern about CBD safety and a police survey showing many people felt unsafe in the inner city at night.
Increased monitoring of Council CCTV footage from Thursdays to Sundays enables more potential issues to be prevented and/or people who do engage in anti-social or criminal behaviour to be identified. Daily briefings are providing an additional opportunity to share information.
“People’s safety is paramount and people should not have to put up with anti-social and criminal behaviour while they’re going about their day-to-day business so it’s really pleasing to hear that this initiative is having a positive effect and people are feeling safer,” Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick says.
Council staff have also worked on activation in the inner city with live entertainment happening at Te Manawa and the Thursday night and Sunday Farmers Markets ongoing.
“With both locals on holiday and visitors, the number of people in our CBD swells during the busy summer period so it’s important to ensure everyone feels safe. Having lots of activity that draws more people also helps to deter bad behaviour and people have been enjoying the live entertainment,” the Mayor says.
“We want people to enjoy being in our inner city and both Council and the police have a role to play so establishing a stronger working relationship with police has been crucial and we are now seeing the benefits of that.”
Rotorua Police Area Commander, Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi, says working more closely with Council’s Safe City Guardians and having security staff in the CBD is providing additional support for sometimes stretched police resources. “It means if we are having to deal with issues elsewhere, we know we still have eyes and ears on the ground in the CBD who can deter bad behaviour and/or alert us if something does develop.
“All parties are benefitting from this partnership – it has been very well received by police staff as well as by businesses and the public.
“We all have a collective responsibility to ensure our CBD is safe for everybody. Collectively, we are all committed to this kaupapa/purpose and while we’re having good success, we know there is still more work to be done,” he says.
Police have had to make only a few arrests since the initiative began with a noticeable drop in incidents of anti-social and criminal behaviour in the CBD and just a handful of people responsible for most of the few issues that do still occur.
“Things have been pretty quiet overall since the initiative started and New Year’s Eve was very quiet compared with previous years with GLO Festival wrapping up well before midnight. That made a big difference for police,” Inspector Pewhairangi says.
The joint initiative will run until at least the end of February and will be reviewed before then to see if there is a need for it to continue. That will include cost considerations.
Council CCTV team a valuable additional resource for police
Rotorua Police recognised the value of Rotorua Lakes Council’s CCTV system and monitoring with an award presented to a Safe City Guardians team member in December at the Rotorua Police Awards.
The District Commander’s Certificate of Appreciation acknowledged the council team’s support for the work of the Rotorua Police through effective monitoring that is helping to prevent crime and secure vital evidence for investigations.
The Safe City Guardian team responds to more than 500 incidents a year with most of these identified through monitoring of live CCTV footage. Incidents include crime and anti-social behaviour as well as accidents and medical emergencies.
“The award is great acknowledgement of the value of this work to the police,” Mayor Chadwick says. “It also demonstrates the importance of working in partnership to make sure our district remains a great place to live, do business and to visit.”