Curfew call to stop violence

By Mike Dinsdale

The leader of a Whangarei youth organisation says a curfew should be considered for the central city as part of a community response to recent violent attacks.

Sarah Manley, president of YWCA Whangarei, said the community needed to denounce violence after recent violent episodes, describing such attacks on the streets of Whangarei as disturbing.

Ms Manley said one of the options that could be looked at was a curfew in the central business district during some of the night to help curb the problem.

But Northland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tony Collins, a former policeman, said a curfew would not work and that police and the Whangarei District Council were already working well to make the city safer.

Ms Manley said a curfew might sound like a draconian measure but it should be looked at as part of a wider strategy to halt violence.

She was speaking out after an 18-year-old man had his throat slashed in Cameron St Mall early last Saturday morning and Ashlee Edwards, 21, was killed on Tarewa Rd in July.

"Our young people have a right to be safe in our streets, as does the entire community. We work with young women in some of our local schools, and we are very disturbed about the stories we hear in regards to violence in our streets," Ms Manley said.

"The people of Whangarei deserve safe streets and neighbourhoods where they can walk outside without fear of violence. The community at large deserves an end to the violence that is stealing young lives and destroying our communities."

The YWCA is backing the Family Violence - It's Not OK in Whangarei campaign.

Mr Collins said he did not think Whangarei was a particularly violent city compared to others around the country - "and that comes after my experience in the police over 20 years".

"A curfew would make what should be the heart and soul of the city into a no-go area and would be a backwards step. We want to make it more open," Mr Collins said.

He said the business community was working well with police and the district council on safety measures and the City Safe initiative - strategies designed to develop positive perceptions of safety - was making an impact.

"The district council is doing a lot to create a safer environment and we support them. Things like the work on the carpark on the corner of John and James Sts and improving Vine St carpark," he said.

Increased CCTV coverage was also helping make the streets safer.


What do you think about safety in Whangarei at night and the suggestion of a curfew? Let us know by emailing or texting NAD, then your opinion, to 021 2414568."

- Northern Advocate

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