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Kristin Mac­far­lane Ed­i­to­rial in­quiries and news tips 07 349 7478 no­tice­able drop” in an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour and crime in the Ro­torua CBD is be­ing ap­plauded by the Ro­torua Lakes Coun­cil and po­lice, but oth­ers say it’s too soon to cel­e­brate.

A month ago the two or­gan­i­sa­tions jointly launched a cen­tral city sum­mer safety cam­paign, after com­plaints from busi­nesses, and po­lice sur­vey re­sults show­ing many peo­ple felt un­safe in the in­ner city at night.

Last week, Ro­torua po­lice area com­man­der In­spec­tor Anaru Pe­whairangi said so far only a few ar­rests had been made, and just a hand­ful of peo­ple were re­spon­si­ble for most is­sues.

Ro­torua Mayor Steve Chad­wick said that was “re­ally pleas­ing”. “Peo­ple’s safety is para­mount.” How­ever, in coun­cil­lor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait’s opin­ion, “it is far too early to sing the praises”.

“You don’t get anti-so­cial and crim­i­nal be­hav­iour with hordes of peo­ple around. And the city has been very busy. I live in the city and the po­lice and ad­di­tional se­cu­rity staff have been very vis­i­ble.”

When the coun­cil launched the sum­mer safety plan, chief ex­ec­u­tive Ge­off Wil­liams said “clearly this is an area that we hadn’t bud­geted for, to the level that we cur­rently are”.

It will de­cide whether to con­tinue with the cam­paign and its costs at the end of Fe­bru­ary.

“If the joint ef­fort is suc­cess­ful why . . . should it be stopped?” RaukawaTait said yes­ter­day.

Hen­nessy’s Ir­ish Bar owner Reg Hen­nessy agreed.

He spoke out about the

CBD prob­lem in a let­ter to coun­cil­lors last month, just be­fore the changes were made.

At the time, he called for the night shel­ter on Puku­atua St to be moved out of the cen­tral city, say­ing Ro­torua was turn­ing into a “zom­bie town”.

“We def­i­nitely saw a drop while there was a force­ful pres­ence, and that’s all we’ve ever asked for as re­tail­ers. The two or three weeks of Christ­mas and New Year were great, but that’s not go­ing to solve 52 weeks of the year.” He said the per­pe­tra­tors had been “creep­ing back” in the past few days. “I haven’t seen po­lice and se­cu­rity as much . . . it’s cer­tainly nowhere near where the prob­lem we had, but I ex­pect it to re­turn to the same level un­less the pres­ence re­mains. “It’s cat and mouse some­times. The trou­ble is back very quickly when po­lice leave. We are open from 9am in the morn­ing to 1am the next day so we see it all.” He also said there was “not a lot se­cu­rity can do some­times”. “They can’t ar­rest peo­ple, and we un­der­stand that. They do the best job they can.” Hen­nessy told the Ro­torua Daily Post the prob­lem be­hav­iour had been “dis­gust­ing”. “Hit­ting peo­ple up for money, food and cig­a­rettes con­tin­u­ally, in many cases it’s ag­gres­sively too. It’s a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem for our peo­ple sit­ting out­side on the street. “Some­times it’s be­yond un­ac­cept­able,

quite vi­o­lent. Just peo­ple be­ing gen­eral a**holes and in­tim­ida­tory. Sit­ting where they shouldn’t and that.

“It’s amaz­ing the num­ber of tourists who have high­lighted the is­sue to us. It cer­tainly shows the un­der­belly of Ro­torua, that we aren’t just a bub­bly city with at­trac­tive spots.”

Tiny Deane, who man­ages the Vi­sions of Help­ing Hand Char­i­ta­ble Trust home­less shel­ter and ser­vices said: “If the coun­cil’s happy that’s a good thing, even though I have re­ceived a lot of calls of con­cern from stake­hold­ers in Puku­atua St in the last few days.”

He said the shel­ter had full-time se­cu­rity, and he had brought in a “no loi­ter­ing” pol­icy out­side the en­trance.

Deane said the key to get­ting peo­ple off the streets, was ed­u­cat­ing them and teach­ing them skills, “not push­ing them out of town”.

Since the sum­mer safety plan started, Pe­whairangi said “things have been pretty quiet” but “there is still more work to be done”.

He said the coun­cil se­cu­rity part­ner­ship “means if we are hav­ing to deal with is­sues else­where, we know we still have eyes and ears on the ground in the CBD”.

The Safe City Guardians, who are part of the sum­mer safety cam­paign, were hon­oured at the Ro­torua Po­lice Awards last month.

The team re­sponds to more than 500 in­ci­dents a year, most of which are iden­ti­fied through mon­i­tor­ing of live CCTV footage.

Photo / Sup­plied

From left, Safe City Guardian Marcelle Mor­ri­son, Con­sta­ble Marc Van Krieken, Watch­dog Se­cu­rity staff mem­ber Tre­vayze Wairepo and VR Se­cu­rity staff mem­ber Hemiora Riki.

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