Workers in the Rotorua CBD say they don't feel safe when arriving at or leaving work - with one saying there needs to be more lighting and a stronger police presence in the town centre.

The concern comes as the recent Citizens' Satisfaction Survey for 2015/2016 reveals a drop in the percentage of people who feel safe in Bay of Plenty city centres.

The independently-run survey asked 9266 people nationwide their views about police, feelings of safety and their interactions with police.

In the 'perceptions of safety' section 90 per cent of Bay of Plenty respondents said they felt safe in their neighbourhood during the day, 4 per cent down on last year.

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But, only 50 per cent said they felt safe in the city or town centre at night, an 8 per cent drop from last year.

Acting Rotorua area commander Inspector Steve Bullock said the results highlighted areas the police knew they needed to work on.

"The main issue is that they are Bay of Plenty stats so we can't delve down into Rotorua, but the issues in Rotorua are much the same."

He said there were two main issues that had caused a decrease in people feeling safe in the CBD.

"The first is an increased presence in gangs. We have had a lot of gang activity this year with shootings and things like that.

"For Rotorua we have gangs centred around meth so we have increased our focus on both meth and gangs. We have devised an organised crime strategy."

Mr Bullock said the other concern was unruly youth in the CBD.

"We believe that is down to the increase in the juvenile activity. We don't want to just pick them up and put them away so we are looking at long-term strategies."

Read more:
Street view: What could be done to make our CBD safer?


In the police involvement in the community section, 77 per cent of Bay of Plenty respondents were happy with police input a 7 per cent increase from last year.

"What we have tried to focus on is being in our community. Programmes like Cactus are what we are proud of," Mr Bullock said.

The Rotorua Daily Post talked to retailers and staff working in the CBD.

Hairdresser Gemma Agnew said she felt unsafe when coming to work first thing in the morning and during the winter months when she was leaving work late.

"Ever since they have taken down the City Focus there's no lighting out there. When we leave in the winter it's pitch black. I like what they've done but they need more lighting because it doesn't feel safe.

"I feel like we need more of a police presence if that's possible. We don't want to take them away from jobs that desperately need doing."

Crossroads Rotorua assistant manager Amy Rewiri said they made sure they had two staff members on until close for late shifts.

"My old manager left late one night and someone was trying to break into her car, so when we do leave late at night we do feel a bit unsafe," she said.

Dunkin' Donuts Rotorua store manager Aseem Sharama said sometimes in the evening he and his staff felt unsafe.

"We do take precautions, but you are always going to have good people and bad people. I think police are doing a good job. Whenever we call them they come straight away. They are trying to do their best," he said.

Whitcoulls Rotorua supervisor Renee Sopp said the loss of the City Guardians' base in the City Focus had made a difference.

"There's definitely been a change, there's arguing in the middle of the street all the time now," she said.

Eat Streat collective spokesman Tamati Coffey acknowledged the hard work of the police, the Maori Wardens and the city's security companies.

"But crime is a problem. Most of our businesses can identify workers who have been threatened, beaten, robbed or had property stolen. Some of our businesses have been broken into too.

"Summer brings an increase in customers but also a rise in crime."

Rotorua Lakes Council group manager for strategy and partnerships Jean-Paul Gaston said restoring the City Focus lighting was due to be finished within the next few weeks.

"The two pillars currently being restored will be fitted with lights and a CCTV camera and more lighting will be installed in the final phase of the City Focus redevelopment."

He said the amount of time the City Safe Guardians spent patrolling the inner city had not changed.

"Parking officers have been merged with the Guardians so we effectively have four more staff on patrol and we continue working very closely with police, other agencies and businesses.

"From their new base at council's Civic Centre the Guardians can now monitor CCTV camera feeds and alert police as necessary which has been very effective. Regular visits from and meetings with police means we can deal proactively with emerging issues."

Councillor Karen Hunt, who was previously the inner-city portfolio leader, said safety concerns hadn't been raised in the inner-city focus group recently, but "that's not to say it's not happening".

"It is something we want to keep on top of so any feedback is very useful."