The Northland Age
Hui tackles youth crime
Doubtless Bay residents meet to consider solutions, with community patrol gaining widespread support
The issue of youth crime is being felt across the country and now one Far North community is taking matters into its own hands, hoping to find its own solutions to the problem in the area.
Over the next two weeks, Doubtless Bay residents are invited to attend a series of community-led meetings in an effort to collaboratively curb poor social behaviour and crime.
The first of the meetings will be held at the Mangonui Hall tomorrow night, chaired by Mangonui local Justin Maxwell.
Maxwell is the owner of the Old Oak Hotel and Doubtless Bay Promotions chairman and said the situation was a nightmare for locals at night.
“We don’t want this meeting to be another bad news story about Northland because there are a lot of good things going on up here,” Maxwell said.
“It’s more about the community feeling fed up with a small percentage of people making life difficult for the majority.
“You can ask anyone around here about some of the behaviour we’re all seeing, it’s not good.
“At night here in Mangonui people use the roads like a race track. Sooner or later it’s going to end with something tragic happening.”
As recently as Sunday evening, one Mangonui local, Fraser Panton, had an alleged near miss with a man driving down the newly built Mangonui boardwalk and jetty.
Panton said he had not long knocked off work at a nearby restaurant when he was blocked by the man as he attempted to get off the jetty.
“It was about 11pm and I was out on the jetty when I heard tyres squealing,” Panton said.
“Next thing I know, he’d driven the car to the end of the jetty, we exchanged a few angry words, then I had to duck under his wing mirror to get around him.
“There were about two inches to spare [between his car and the jetty], I’m surprised he even got off.”
As a result of such behaviour, Maxwell said he and others had decided to hold tomorrow’s meeting in the hope of finding some “sensible, useful”, short-term solutions to the issues.
He said they could be as simple as the council putting up chains at places like Māori Point, for example, to prevent people holding parties or doing skids at the popular picnic spot.
“Security cameras would also be helpful and a greater police presence and enforcement of illegal activity,” Maxwell said.
“Because at the moment people are confused as to where the police are.
“These meetings will give police, the council and iwi an opportunity to provide an oversight of what they know about these issues and what we can do as a community to support their work.”
In addition to tomorrow night’s meeting, a separate initiative is being
proposed — a community patrol in the area.
Community Patrols of New Zealand (CPNZ) is a national organisation formed in 2002 and funded at a national level by New Zealand Police and New Zealand Government.
The organisation supports 4000 volunteers in more than 150 affiliated community patrols throughout New Zealand, with each patrol catering to the needs of its local community, patrolling where and when best supports the local police and residents.
Cable Bay resident Gerry Casey, supported by the Mangonui Lions Club, said he was inspired to set up a community patrol in Doubtless Bay after seeing the success of the programme in Leigh, a small community about 21km north of Warkworth.
He said he believed CPNZ would work well in Doubtless Bay and had been overwhelmed by the response from the community so far.
“We’re still in the infant stages of getting this up and running, but we’ve already got about 15 people as definite volunteers, plus our local gas station has donated a patrol car,” Casey said.
“It’s a long, involved process, which includes police vetting, training, firstaid etc. so not just anyone can do the role.
“But we do want to hear from anyone who is interested because we need as many people as possible to get involved.
“We believe an extra set of eyes and presence in the community will make a big difference.”
CPNZ trust board chairman Chris Lawton has 20 years of experience in policing and security operations.
He agreed that having a presence in the community often made a big difference in terms of making people feel safe and at ease.
“One aspect of the community patrol work is to prevent crime, by identifying suspicious behaviour, but also logging lost or damaged property and assisting vulnerable people in the community,” Lawton said.
“ln cities, that can look like homeless people, but, in smaller towns, it might look like young people walking home alone, etc.
“These patrols act as a visible support to police operations, as an extra pair of eyes, ears and hands-on approach in their local community.”
Lawton said community patrols worked with local police to strategically set up patrols and relied on police feedback about the amount of crime and perception of crime in any particular area.
The community meeting at Mangonui Hall will be held from 6pm on November 23. Registration not required.
CPNZ, with local police and members of the Mangonui Lions Club, will be holding a morning (10am) and evening (6pm) session at St John’s Hall, Cooper’s Beach on November 30.
Anyone interested in attending either CPNZ session is asked to register their details with Gerry Casey on 027 228 0025 or Dave Wise on 02108541642.