Greater support for crime prevention
Greater financial support for crime prevention measures in high-risk retail businesses is being made available after a review by Police Minister Stuart Nash.
The previous government announced in June 2017 that $1.8 million would be set aside for the installation of devices like audible alarms, fog cannons, and DNA spray in premises identified by Police as high risk. However financial barriers deterred many business owners from taking up the assistance, and by November 2017 the equipment had been installed in just three locations, two in Auckland and one in Wellington.
“I was concerned to learn that many shop owners declined to take part in the scheme because the costs were prohibitive,” says Mr Nash.
“The previous scheme required businesses to contribute 50 per cent of the cost but that was beyond the reach of many. A fog cannon can cost around $4,000, while a DNA spray system can be more than $3,000 and an audible alarm can be around $1700.
“I have reviewed the way this fund is allocated and decided that greater financial support is needed to make this a viable option for the most at-risk business owners. Many of these businesses, such as dairies and superettes, have only very small profit margins and were facing a potential bill of several thousand dollars for these crime prevention tools.
“The government has increased the subsidy so at-risk business owners will contribute no more than $250 towards the cost of a fog cannon. This is a fraction of the bill they faced previously. I encourage all eligible shop owners to take advantage of the changes to this scheme. Already a further 17 stores have installed the fog cannons during December and January, while eight more are awaiting fit-out.
“These are short term measures and the government remains focussed on longer term ways to reduce crime and improve public safety. Our coalition agreement with New Zealand First undertakes to work towards recruiting 1800 extra Police over three years. We are also targeting organised crime, which will interrupt the supply chains for methamphetamine and other drugs, so that we can remove the incentives for people to commit crimes to fund their habits.
“The original scheme was well-intentioned but imposed too many barriers on those businesses who needed it most. This is a more pragmatic and workable solution which makes better use of the existing fund. I encourage all small business owners who are concerned about crime prevention to talk to their local Police, who can offer specialist advice about enhancing security for staff and premises,” Mr Nash says.
Questions and Answers
- Who is eligible for this assistance?
Police determine eligibility through a process of security audits. They visit vulnerable small businesses such as dairies and superettes to undertake assessments. Those determined most at risk of robbery are eligible for the subsidised assistance. This is based on factors like a history of aggravated robberies, burglaries and thefts, as well as calls to Police for issues like graffiti and suspicious activity. Police arrange for a private sector security firm to install the devices.
- How many businesses are likely to qualify?
An estimated 400 premises are expected to qualify. Most are spread across wider Auckland, but others are in Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and other centres.
- What assistance is available for other businesses?
Frontline constables in public safety teams can visit shops to provide advice on crime prevention techniques. This could include measures to enhance visibility both within and outside the shop; create more secure storage and display of high value items like cigarettes and alcohol; develop a safe exit plan; install CCTV cameras; upgrade lighting; rearrange the layout of stores; and improve cash handling practices.
- How do the crime prevention measures work?
A fog cannon is an effective deterrent because it creates an effective no-go area for offenders. They are unable to see anything inside the shop and cannot locate high value items. It also allows employees to retreat to a safe place and lessens the risk of being a target of wanton violence.
- When will the first of the 1800 extra police be on the beat?
Funding for the initial phase of recruitment, training and support will be made available in the government’s first budget, to be delivered in May for the financial year 2018/19. The recruitment will be spread over three financial years.