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.
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.
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.