Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Police Ten 7: 'This show helps put criminals in prison'

Police Ten 7 celebrates its 500th episode promising to add to its criminal record.
More than 2000 crimes have featured on Police Ten 7 in the past 14 years. Photo / Michael Craig
More than 2000 crimes have featured on Police Ten 7 in the past 14 years. Photo / Michael Craig

Police Ten 7 has been a hit since its launch in 2002 and has proven to be a major crime-fighting tool, resulting in 765 arrests after tips from viewers.

One of the hardest hitting shows on New Zealand TV celebrates its 500th episode on Thursday night.

Over the past 14 years, Police Ten 7 has featured 2003 crime cases and profiled the faces of hundreds of wanted criminals.

Last year alone, six men handed themselves in after they appeared on the show.

Another nab came after a young man was watching Police Ten 7 with his dad, who promptly marched him to the local police station after seeing his photo appear onscreen.

"It might be entertaining but the big thing is, this show helps put criminals in prison," said Detective Sergeant Rob Lemoto, who has hosted Police Ten 7 for the past two years.

"For me, it is a good way to get around the country and catch bad people. I enjoy that."

The detective works three days a week on Ten 7 and two days doing administration for the Bay of Plenty's child protection team.

At 40, and with two decades of policing under his belt, including 7 years in the Armed Offenders Squad and seven months in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, he has learned the importance of working with communities.

He cites the help of the community in busting a $500 million methamphetamine ring in Northland this week as a good example of the power of the public and police working together.

Rob Lemoto hosts Police Ten 7.
Rob Lemoto hosts Police Ten 7.

"I am also rarely surprised when families dob in their own. People see friends or family doing stupid things and have often done everything they can to help them to no avail.

"Whether the offenders have problems with alcohol, drugs or have anger issues, sometimes the only thing that helps with this is an appearance in court in front of a judge."

Lemoto replaced former detective inspector Graham Bell who fronted Police Ten 7 from 2002 to 2014.

"I really applaud Graham for what he did and I feel like I've sneaked in and stolen the candy bar for hosting the 500th episode," he said. "But like Graham, I see myself firstly as a police officer, not a TV star."

"As long as we remember the show is all about catching the bad guys there's no reason why Police Ten 7 won't still be around for another 500 episodes."

Police Ten 7 is screened on TV2 on Thursday at 7.30pm.

- Herald on Sunday

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