Speech Notes - Neighbourhood Policing TeamsPolice
I'm delighted to be here today to mark the launch New Zealand's first Neighbourhood Policing Teams here in the Counties-Manukau Police District.
This Government believes strongly that the Police should be highly visible and active in the community, getting out and tackling the causes of crime whenever possible, rather than just being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, essential though that is.
Neighbourhood Policing Teams are operating successfully in other countries with police services similar to New Zealand.
The initial six Teams deployed in the District will focus on crime in neighbourhoods with the greatest need. They will take policing to the community, street by street and house by house.
Counties Manukau is expected to have a total of 16 Neighbourhood Policing Teams in the district by the end of 2011.
The aim is for teams to be trialled in other districts from next year and rolled out nationally from 2012.
Counties-Manukau is an area that traditionally has present special challenges to Police. Crime rates, and crime resolution rates, have been worse than national averages.
While unfortunately some categories of offending, including violence, remain unacceptably high, there have been welcome improvements in other areas. For example, over the past year to July:
- Total robberies in the District fell from 76 to 36,
- Burglary numbers were down from 808 to 554, and
- Stolen vehicle numbers fell from 390 to 257.
The Government has responded to the needs of the Counties Manukau District with a significant investment in staff and resources.
We promised to bring in 300 new Police to the District by the end of this year, and we're delivering - by October, 291 of the new recruits will be in place.
These staff have mainly been deployed into prevention initiatives. These include Public Safety Teams, a dedicated Major Crime Team, Child Abuse Team, Alternative Resolutions, and now the Neighbourhood Policing Teams.
Innovations that have had a real impact include the Criminal Justice Support Unit, a mobile police station and cross-agency work targeting at-risk youth and young offenders.
Police report that the additional staff have allowed them to focus on their priorities without being "slaves to the radio," although they can still act as back-up to front-line officers if required.
They also tell me the "word on the street" is that the extra Police presence is making a mark.
For example, a prostitute from Hunters Corner told an officer: "Why are there all of a sudden so many cops around, the last few weeks there has been heaps of you. You're scaring away our clients."
A supermarket worker said: "I can't believe how many Police I have seen recently. At first I thought it was because there was a problem in the area but I heard it's just a new thing. It's good, I feel safer and don't worry so much about the kids."
And a recidivist burglar said: "Its getting a little hot in Manurewa at the moment. There are more patrols and when I see them I don't bother doing a burg as there's more chance I'm gonna get caught."
There's been positive feedback from the Mayor, the Council, the Franklin Business Association and the community. They all welcomed the high number of Police doing foot patrols in the area and the feelings of security this provides.
One story perhaps illustrates what a welcome surprise the extra Police presence has been. In Pukekohe two police officers were walking along the street, doing their jobs, and a car pulled over to see if they needed a lift back to the station. The driver just assumed the officers had broken down in their vehicle and were walking back to the station to get assistance.
As Police Minister I'm proud that in these tough economic times, this Government has prioritised this investment in safety and security for the people of Counties-Manukau and it's making a real difference.