Day patrols to boost safety in the city
A city ambassador scheme is being launched in Palmerston North to avoid a repeat of last summer’s crime spree, when groups of young people created mayhem in the central city, prompting a public rally against youth violence.
The city council has approved a $32,200 trial this summer to employ two people to be a roving presence to make visitors to town feel safe and discourage antisocial behaviour.
The Safe City hosts, 20-year veterans of patrolling central Palmerston North by night, will be turning their hand to daytime crime prevention.
Community engagement, libraries and community services manager Ian Littleworth said their role would be more about being city hosts than security guards.
Littleworth said there had been another rash of ‘‘quite severe’’ incidents involving a ‘‘small but determined’’ group of youths about six weeks ago around the City Library, George St and The Square.
Behaviour ranged from intimidation to property damage, ‘‘and a lot in between’’.
The library had resorted to using security guards on the door during school holidays to keep library staff and visitors safe. On several occasions the guards had needed to call for police assistance.
A public rally was held in February after a spate of violent and intimidating altercations, and petty crime, attributed to young offenders. The ambassador scheme has been recommended by the Safety Advisory Board, which includes police and a range of agencies.
Police representative and area prevention manager Dave White said having another set of capable guardians in and around the CBD over the summer months could only improve the positive feel of the city.
Board chairman Vaughan Dennison said the impetus for the trial was about dealing with antisocial behaviour, with extra ‘‘eyes and ears on the street’’ using their established connections to police. But they would also contribute to the council’s strategies of making the city more creative, liveable and connected.
The scheme received a luke warm response from some councillors, with five of the 15 present voting against it.
The trial is scheduled to run from the beginning of December to the end of February.
George St in Palmerston North has seen problems with anti-social young people.