Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Cop Chat initiative aiming to ease tensions among Asian students

Victims of serious assaults on Asian students in Auckland.
Victims of serious assaults on Asian students in Auckland.

A new police safety initiative is the latest public event launched after a spate of violent attacks against Asian students in Auckland.

Cop Chat will be a weekly event at Auckland Central City Library where police, including an Asian liaison officer, will be available to speak with the community.

Today's 11am to 1pm session follows three public meetings and an awareness run held in the wake of four violent robberies on six Chinese students in the week to Easter Monday.

The students were left bloody and afraid after the attacks mainly by groups of young teens and in daylight, or early evening hours.

Nine of the alleged attackers were aged under 16 and were dealt with through the Youth Court. An 18-year-old man appeared in Auckland District Court facing charges relating to a number of aggravated assaults.

Auckland City area prevention manager Matt Srhoj said the initiative was aimed at international, specifically Asian, students and would be attended by an Asian liaison officer.

"It's always difficulty engaging with students, particularly international students," he said. "The whole idea of Cop Chat was to create a forum where they could come in and speak to us in perhaps a less intimidating environment, the library is a more approachable environment to a police station."

Mr Srhoj said the idea had been in the pipeline before last month's attacks but was now more relevant.

"Often due to cultural differences it is quite helpful for us to have a liaison officer that they speak with and to put things in context and speak about why we do things the way we do and why things are different here than in the countries that they come from."

The Cop Chat initiative follows two public talks featuring police, politicians, education providers and members of the Chinese community, a debate about public safety, and an awareness run that finished in Albert Park where one of the attacks took place.

It has been well received by the Chinese community.

- NZ Herald

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