Pa­trol pop­u­lar­ity grow­ing

If you care about the safety of your neigh­bour­hood there is a vol­un­teer job with your name on it. Re­porter Emma Whit­taker finds out what com­mu­nity pa­trols are all about.

Central Leader - - NEWS -

They’re an­other set of eyes and ears tuned in to keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe.

‘‘They’re not the po­lice, they’re not there to fight crime, they’re there to ob­serve from a safe dis­tance and re­port to po­lice if they do see some­thing,’’ Com­mu­nity Pa­trols New Zealand na­tional coun­cil mem­ber and Auck­land City rep­re­sen­ta­tive Garry Miller says.

‘‘They’re a de­ter­rent. That’s why they’re clearly marked.

‘‘Crim­i­nals get to know some­one is watch­ing and the the­ory is they’ll move on,’’ he says.

CPNZ works closely in part­ner­ship with po­lice and re­ceives fund­ing from the Min­istry of Jus­tice.

Vol­un­teers are vet­ted, trained and work in small groups to pa­trol their sub­urbs in sign-writ­ten cars, of­ten at night.

They do not have any po­lice pow­ers but will be logged on to the po­lice com­mu­ni­ca­tion cen­tre and phone in to re­port crime as it hap­pens.

They will also note nonur­gent crime, such as tag­ging, for po­lice to fol­low up later.

CPNZ has come a long way since form­ing in 2000 when there were only about 30 pa­trols, mainly in the Waikato and and Bay of Plenty area.

There are now 150 af­fil­i­ated com­mu­nity pa­trols across the coun­try and seven op­er­at­ing in the Auck­land City District.

Twelve new pa­trols formed last year alone.

‘‘All of a sud­den peo­ple are be­com­ing more aware. In De­cem­ber I had 17 in­quiries from peo­ple in Auck­land want­ing to join.

‘‘It used to be three or four per month.

‘‘It is more en­er­getic,’’ Miller says.

It’s not just the el­derly and re­tired get­ting in­volved ei­ther.

Pa­trols are at­tract­ing in­ter­est from all age groups and de­mo­graph­ics.

CPNZ has un­der­gone a num­ber of or­gan­i­sa­tional changes and is push­ing to build its pro­file.

It hasn’t al­ways been an easy road.

Not ev­ery­one has seen the value of the vol­un­teer pa­trols and they’ve had to work to over­come the per­cep­tion that they’re Dad’s Army, Miller says.

Re­cently po­lice en­listed the help of pa­trols for Op­er­a­tion Know Your Neigh­bour.

It in­volved knock­ing on hun­dreds of doors around Mt Al­bert to pro­mote Neigh­bour­hood Sup­port.

Auck­land pa­trollers are also be­ing called in to help out at the Cricket World Cup at Eden Park this week­end.

‘‘They’re hugely valu­able and I would like to see more of them,’’ Avon­dale po­lice se­nior sergeant Si­mon Welsh says.

‘‘Po­lice can’t be ev­ery­where and we need to work with the com­mu­nity. We might say to them: ‘Can you go down to the school and see what’s go­ing on? It helps us out’. A new com­mu­nity pa­trol is be­ing set up in Mt Roskill and mem­bers are needed to help get if off the ground.

It is be­ing spear­headed by Mt Roskill res­i­dents Taki Tuhaka and Mer­ril Bourne.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple have been quite keen.

‘‘At the first meet­ing, a lot of peo­ple were able to give ex­am­ples of crime in the neigh­bour­hood and peo­ple in Mt Roskill are very mind­ful about safety in their com­mu­nity,’’ Bourne says.

Ide­ally pa­trollers will only

‘‘It’s about en­cour­ag­ing the com­mu­nity to take more re­spon­si­bil­ity for safety in their own neigh­bour­hoods.’’

It is hard quan­tify the ex­act suc­cess of pa­trols but it is well known that their high vis­i­bil­ity acts as a de­ter­rent, Welsh says.

Pho­tos: EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Com­mu­nity Pa­trols New Zealand na­tional coun­cil mem­ber Garry Miller. Watch­ful eye: Mem­bers of the newly formed Mt Roskill Com­mu­nity Pa­trol led by Mer­ril Bourne, front, with Mt Roskill Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Team Sergeant Nick Poore, left, and Avon­dale Po­lice Se­nior Sergeant Si­mon Welsh.

Safer neigh­bour­hoods:

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