Waipa Mayor says po­lice are let­ting towns down

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Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest says New Zealand po­lice should stop “re­ly­ing on sta­tis­tics” and sim­ply ad­mit Waikato po­lice hubs are fail­ing smaller towns.

Mr Mylchreest is ex­as­per­ated that re­peated calls from the Cam­bridge com­mu­nity for a re­turn to 24-hour polic­ing in the town are fall­ing on deaf ears. He has again backed calls from Cam­bridge lead­ers who this week de­manded a re­turn to 24/7 polic­ing in the town.

Cur­rently Cam­bridge is ser­viced from a po­lice hub based out of Te Awa­mutu, de­spite a rapidly grow­ing pop­u­la­tion and a dra­matic in­crease in se­ri­ous crime.

“For good­ness sake, our coun­cil raised this is­sue for­mally with the New Zealand Po­lice back in Au­gust last year. When we didn’t get an­swers then, we wrote to the Min­is­ter of Po­lice in Oc­to­ber,” he says.

“Fi­nally, af­ter an OIA re­quest, we got a re­sponse back in Jan­uary which was frankly, pretty hope­less and didn’t ad­dress any of the is­sues we raised.”

“Since then, what’s changed? Noth­ing— ab­so­lutely noth­ing. Mean­while, we’ve got ram-raiders hav­ing a field-day in Cam­bridge and Te Awa­mutu and in fact, across the coun­try.”

Mr Mylchreest says his com­mu­nity did not ac­cept that Waikato po­lice hubs, which ser­vice ru­ral towns from one cen­tral po­lice sta­tion, were work­ing.

“I don’t care how ef­fi­cient this so-called hub sys­tem is. It is sim­ply not de­liv­er­ing the kind of ser­vice our com­mu­nity wants, cer­tainly not in Cam­bridge and not in Te Awa­mutu or our other towns ei­ther,” he says.

“Peo­ple want to feel safe and se­cure and know that if the po­lice are needed, they’ll be there. The con­stant feed­back I’m get­ting is that peo­ple and busi­ness own­ers are feel­ing very vul­ner­a­ble. Peo­ple have told me they have sim­ply given up try­ing to call the po­lice to re­port any­thing be­cause nine times out of 10 po­lice ad­vise they’re un­able to re­spond fast enough, or at all.”

He says he be­lieves that as a re­sult, lo­cal crime sta­tis­tics were sim­ply un­der-re­ported. This con­cern had been raised with the Min­is­ter of Po­lice but it “dis­ap­peared into the ether”, he says.

“So I’m sorry, but I don’t have any faith at all in claims that the model of po­lice hubs is work­ing and de­liv­er­ing a bet­ter com­mu­nity ser­vice. And I feel sorry for po­lice on the ground who are do­ing their very best but are be­ing forced to work within a fun­da­men­tally flawed sys­tem— and they know it.”

Mr Mylchreest says this wasn’t just aWaipa is­sue, but was some­thing the whole coun­try needed to be con­cerned about.

“My com­mu­nity has been in­cred­i­bly pa­tient but enough is enough. The whole model of hubs is fun­da­men­tally wrong and needs a se­ri­ous re­think.”

A sec­ond ram raid on Te Awa­mutu Stir­ling Sports this year (above) while Mo­bil Kara­piro was ram raided overnight last Sun­day (be­low) and Cam­bridge Stir­ling Sports suf­fered the same fate in the early hours of last Fri­day morn­ing.

Jim Mylchreest

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