Po­lice sta­tions stay closed at week­ends

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

‘‘It’s not a great look to say one thing and do an­other.’’

One year af­ter they shut ‘‘tem­po­rar­ily’’ Porirua and Up­per Hutt’s po­lice sta­tions re­main closed at week­ends.

With no date set for re­open­ing and no work be­gun on planned se­cu­rity up­grades that were the rea­son for the clo­sures, some peo­ple are ques­tion­ing if the sta­tions have ‘‘closed by stealth’’.

Up­per Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said the con­tin­ued clo­sure and ex­cuses from po­lice were wear­ing thin.

‘‘It’s more than frus­trat­ing. I keep get­ting told it’s go­ing to open but it doesn’t.’’

But po­lice con­tinue to in­sist the sta­tions will re­open soon.

In a 2016 re­view, 121 po­lice sites na­tion­wide were iden­ti­fied as need­ing safety im­prove­ments and some were closed for work to be car­ried out.

Last year, Guppy was told the po­lice sta­tion would be closed at week­ends for a max­i­mum nine weeks.

‘‘First it was plan­ning, then it was de­sign, then it was bud­get. There’s al­ways an ex­cuse.’’

The clo­sures mean Lower Hutt and Welling­ton Cen­tral are the only sta­tions in the re­gion open at week­ends.

Porirua Mayor Mike Tana had met with com­mu­nity po­lice about the is­sue but had not been told the sta­tion would def­i­nitely re­open.

‘‘It’s not a great look to say one thing and do an­other.’’

Labour po­lice spokesman Stu­art Nash said the week­end clo­sures were ‘‘clo­sure by stealth’’ and if they were go­ing to re­open they would have done so by now.

‘‘Ab­so­lutely it’s an ex­cuse. How long does it take to do a safety up­grade?’’

He cited a two-week safety up­grade of Napier’s po­lice sta­tion as an ex­am­ple and said the pro­longed clo­sures of Porirua and Up­per Hutt sta­tions ‘‘didn’t ring true’’.

‘‘The use of meth is ris­ing through the roof and bur­glar­ies are in­creas­ing. You don’t ad­dress that by clos­ing po­lice sta­tions.’’

Po­lice min­is­ter Paula Bennett’s of­fice re­ferred all ques­tions to po­lice.

Welling­ton’s District Com­man­der, Su­per­in­ten­dent Steve Ke­hoe, said a re­view into se­cu­rity mea­sures front coun­ters across the coun­try was on­go­ing.

‘‘A date for com­ple­tion has not been set,’’ he said.

‘‘The pub­lic can be re­as­sured that while the front counter of a po­lice sta­tion may be closed, this does not mean there are not po­lice of­fi­cers work­ing in the area.’’

On Tues­day, a po­lice spokes- of wo­man said the sta­tions would re­open ‘‘in the near fu­ture’’. Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Chris Cahill didn’t think the sta­tions were closed per­ma­nently but doubted they would be open in the near fu­ture.

‘‘Near is a rel­a­tive term and from what I’m aware of I wouldn’t use the ‘near’ word.’’

Kapiti Mana area com­man­der In­spec­tor Tracey Thomp­son said: ‘‘It is a pri­or­ity for lo­cal staff to en­sure the front counter re­mains open, how­ever given the na­ture of polic­ing, there may be oc­ca­sions where con­stab­u­lary staff are de­ployed from the sta­tion for a range of rea­sons. This may in­clude road crashes or other vi­o­lent and se­ri­ous crime that is oc­cur­ring which de­mands a pri­or­ity re­sponse.’’

PHOTO: VIR­GINIA FAL­LON/FAIR­FAX NZ

Porirua Po­lice Sta­tion has been closed at week­ends for a year. Left, Porirua Mayor Mike Tana.

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