CBD most violent

By Kaysha Brownlie, Jordan Bond

4 comments
CITY SAFETY: Recent statistics show more assaults happen in Hastings central business district compared with other centres in Hawke's Bay. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN
CITY SAFETY: Recent statistics show more assaults happen in Hastings central business district compared with other centres in Hawke's Bay. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN

Central Hastings is the most likely place to be assaulted in the Bay, according to statistics.

There were 130 victims of assault, sexual assault and robbery in public places in the area in 2015, the most in Hawke's Bay.

Hastings Community Patrol chairman Richard Sanko said the amount of violence discouraged people from visiting the city at night.

"Hastings is a different city at night than it is in the day time."

The unit's main patrol operated from 8pm until midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Mr Sanko said more volunteers would enable patrols from midnight until 4am. He said the morning period would be a busy shift and "most beneficial for police".

But Mr Sanko said being "the eyes and ears for the police" was difficult because of the unpredictable nature of violence.

He said police did a wonderful job, but were limited by a lack of resources.

"We need more police and more vehicles. It's a countrywide problem," he said.

"They'd love to allocate more resources to it, but they don't have them. This is a Government problem."

A 2012 Hastings District Council community safety survey found the most desired CBD change would be for the area to feel safer at night. Sixty-nine per cent of CBD retailers disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement "it feels safe at all times".

District prevention manager Dean Clifford said police "continue to work proactively" to prevent and respond to violent crime.

He said police presence around licensed premises resulted in a reduction in assaults and robberies. Police monitored CCTV cameras across the central city and deployed staff when appropriate to prevent problems escalating.

Hastings District councillor Sandra Hazlehurst said she did not think Hastings CBD was any different from others in the region.

As the chairwoman of Safer Hastings, she said they already worked with other groups and government agencies to help keep streets safe.

They had refocused resources on the Safer Hastings programme and had increased neighbourhood support numbers, which were now closer to 200. She said bringing more people into the city each day and night would make it safer because the community, essentially, was "the eyes and ears".

But Mrs Hazlehurst said recent police changes had an impact on the whole region. "Police numbers are a concern to our council, and our communities are suffering because of the change in the restructuring of police."

Last week, Hawke's Bay Today reported Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule's view that local authorities should not be responsible for the entire workload of policing the area, adding that it was "a core responsibility of the Government". The comments came after the council was asked to extend its City Assist programme into Flaxmere at a cost of $180,000 earlier this year.

Mrs Hazlehurst said City Assist was introduced in 2013 with the aim of upping security in the area.

It is manned day and night by security guards and volunteers.

Mr Yule said the recent request for Flaxmere was made because people were worried about community safety and the increase of what he referred to as "second-order crime", such as burglary and theft.

Also president of Local Government New Zealand, the mayor said he wanted to be clear he was not "having a go" at the local police regime.

Police Minister Judith Collins said police districts ran their own targeted activities tailored to specific community issues.

She said they prioritised and focused their resources accordingly.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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