Police hit streets in show of force

By Brendan Manning


Local police are taking to the streets in a show of force aimed at keeping the community safer.

Police conducted 3835 foot patrols in the Bay of Plenty region last year, nearly double the 1921 patrols in 2011.

Western Bay of Plenty area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said foot patrols were deployed predominantly to high pedestrian areas, including shopping centres, the beachfront and areas where large numbers of youth congregate - "as these tend to be at the highest risk for offending".

"In the last six months, we have also introduced Operation Presence which regularly brings staff from the whole of Western Bay together for a day to carry out foot patrols, vehicle checkpoints, bail checks, liquor licensing checks and so forth.

"This is over and above the day-to-day work checks and patrols."

Experience showed the approach worked, Mr Paxton said.

Police conducted 252 foot patrols in Western Bay last December, compared with 164 in December 2011.

Nearly 50 public place assaults were recorded last December, with another five against police, compared with 45 public assaults in December 2011, and 10 against police.

A 25-year-old man was assaulted by three to five men in an early morning attack last month as he walked along the northern end of The Strand.

He suffered a deep cut to his mouth requiring stitches and had his wallet and its contents stolen.

A Mount Maunganui man, viciously attacked on New Year's Eve, underwent reconstructive surgery to his face. Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner said the man was beaten up outside North Beach on Maunganui Rd about 12.15am on New Year's Day.

The teenager suffered severe facial injuries after being punched in the head and kicked to the ground.

Mr Paxton said foot patrols and "high visibility policing" provided reassurance for the community.

"Ultimately, our aim is keeping our communities safe and that is the ethos behind New Zealand's 'prevention first' model of policing, where prevention is at the forefront of reducing crime and victimisation.

"By making sure that we have our staff in the right places at the right time we have greater control over the criminal environment and can tackle some of the root causes of crime, rather than simply reacting to it."

A 17.4 per cent reduction in crime in Western Bay of Plenty last financial year proved the model was working, he said.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said frontline foot patrols nationwide jumped by 70 per cent last year, rising from 40,918 in 2011 to 69,773 in 2012.

Police were increasing their focus on crime prevention by deploying more officers on the beat to tackle and prevent crime, Mrs Tolley said.

"Staff are being deployed much more strategically, in areas and at times when police know there is a greater risk of crime taking place.

"This smarter approach, with the right people in the right places at the right times, means officers are more visible and better able to prevent crime."

The police presence also sent a clear warning to criminals, Mrs Tolley said.

"In the last two fiscal years, we have seen crime rates drop by 5.9 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. That translates as 47,438 fewer crimes and thousands fewer victims of crime."

Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said increased foot patrols were "very much a part of the ethos" of prevention first policing.

Reduced bureaucracy was unshackling frontline staff from their desks to spend more time out in the communities.

"Prevention has always been a function of policing. We are just creating a better framework to help us fulfil that responsibility."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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