Teens ter­rorise city street

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

‘‘It’s a city prob­lem. It’s a com­mu­nity is­sue. It af­fects res­i­dents in the city, par­tic­u­larly in the CBD - in­clud­ing re­tail­ers and build­ing oc­cu­pants.’’ Deb­bie Dun­can, City Li­brary

A spike in crime and youths con­gre­gat­ing in Palmer­ston North’s city centre is caus­ing con­cern for city re­tail­ers as Christ­mas shop­ping takes off.

Ge­orge St busi­ness own­ers called a meet­ing a fort­night ago to dis­cuss how to deal with youth mis­be­haviour in the area, par­tic­u­larly on the steps lead­ing to the city li­brary.

Groups of young teens wear­ing hood­ies and ban­dan­nas were re­port­edly drink­ing in pub­lic, flout­ing the city’s ‘no smok­ing’ pol­icy, in­tim­i­dat­ing passers-by, swear­ing, play­ing loud mu­sic, shoplift­ing and break­ing into parked cars, ac­cord­ing to re­tail­ers.

Stu­art Schwartz, of Tay­lor-Jensen Art Gallery in Ge­orge St, said the city li­brary’s al­ley­way was a hot spot for the is­sues.

‘‘I was at work on a Sun­day and there were a num­ber of young peo­ple there with hood­ies and ban­dan­nas, hol­ler­ing and cussing, smok­ing un­der the ‘no smok­ing ‘ signs, and play­ing loud mu­sic. One had a ham­mer in his hand.’’

Schwartz said the meet­ing of Ge­orge St re­tail­ers was one of the big­gest he’d at­tended.

Li­braries and com­mu­nity ser­vices gen- eral man­ager Deb­bie Dun­can said that while the li­brary had been strug­gling with the anti-so­cial and il­le­gal be­hav­iours, it was not specif­i­cally a li­brary or Ge­orge St prob­lem.

‘‘It’s a city prob­lem. It’s a com­mu­nity is­sue. It af­fects res­i­dents in the city, par­tic­u­larly in the CBD - in­clud­ing re­tail­ers and build­ing oc­cu­pants. We suf­fer the same as ev­ery­body else,’’ she said.

‘‘When it is a bunch of younger peo­ple car­ry­ing out il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity, it’s a po­lice is­sue.’’

Dun­can said more than 2000 peo­ple passed through the li­brary daily and staff worked hard to make the space wel­com­ing and safe for ev­ery­one.

‘‘We have stan­dards and there are cer­tain be­hav­iours we will not tol­er­ate.

‘‘When peo­ple break the law, we do what other re­tail­ers do. We call the po­lice. The is­sue for us is po­lice re­sponse times.’’

She said cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als had been tres­passed from City Li­brary and Youth Space.

Palmer­ston North po­lice Se­nior Sergeant Steve Craw­ford said po­lice were aware of the is­sues in Ge­orge St.

‘‘[We] will be in­creas­ing our pa­trols in that area dur­ing the Christ­mas and school hol­i­day pe­ri­ods,’’ he said.

‘‘We en­cour­age any­one who has con­cerns about be­hav­iour to con­tact po­lice im­me­di­ately.’’

The cen­tral city had been par­tic­u­larly hard hit in the past week by an in­crease in thefts from cars.

Neigh­bour­hood Sup­port’s Sian Bullen im­plored driv­ers to lock their cars and not to leave any valu­ables in­side, even if they were only go­ing to be away from their ve­hi­cles for a short time.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/ FAIRFAX NZ.

Po­lice have been called as young teens cause is­sues at the Palmer­ston North city li­brary en­trance.

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