The Police are in the news at the moment for several reasons – one, they have new cars, and two, Napier’s Mayor fears they’re stretched to their limits in her region, weighed down with gang violence issues. She wants more Police for her area, and has written to the Police Minister to say so.
Good luck getting a response on that.
Hers is not the only region feeling short of a Police presence. Wellington, recently accused of becoming too dangerous to walk the streets of the CBD at night, is making moves to try to combat anti-social behaviour by committing to a ‘social contract’ and looking to take collective action.
That’s relying on bar owners, Council and Police to step up their efforts and combat the ‘feral’ behaviour. Te Aro Park’s also an issue. Many Wellingtonians report not only feeling unsafe, but that they just don’t see any Police presence on the streets to counteract bad behaviour.
Cantabrians have also complained, with one saying they never see cops on the street anymore.
I know in Auckland that an upsurge of homeless and rough sleepers in the shopping precinct of Newmarket is generally ignored or overlooked by Police. Despite being of huge frustration to retailers who have them camped out on their doorsteps. The government has been written to on this issue too, but no reply.
Businesses surrounding the Auckland motels full of homeless people have also seen an upswing in crime and anti-social activity. Some employees having to take matters into their own hands to ask people to get off premises, and leave customers alone. Again, the Police have been contacted on this – not interested.
I also saw a headline at the weekend – ‘Victim of a homophobic assault is 'frustrated at slow police investigation'. He’s been waiting a whole month since being viciously assaulted, yet Police had still made no arrests or charged anyone. This is despite the Police knowing who owned the car the accused men were driving, according to one report.
So what’s going on? Are there not enough Police? Are the ones we have doing more community work around education, rather than crime solving?
Have priorities changed? Or do we always feel like there’s just not enough Police to go round?
My concern is, and Wellington is living proof of this, the longer you leave something to fester, the worse it gets. If you ignore issues, and let a city or a park or a community get overtaken by anti-social behaviour, then the rot sets in, the perpetrators of the violence or mayhem get emboldened, they start to believe there are no consequences for bad behaviour, so it multiplies, until it's an even bigger problem to solve.
Surely waiting until things get really bad, is not the smart way to manage anything. Ambulance at the bottom of the cliff stuff never works. A few more Police at the top of the cliff, being proactive and present, would be great wouldn't it?
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
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