by Kelly Makiha firstname.lastname@example.org
Rotorua police have today launched a major "name and shame" campaign to try to bring to justice more than 100 offenders on the run.
They have released details of the city's most wanted in a renewed drive to catch criminals who have been evading the law.
They say there are more than 100 people currently on their wanted list, some facing charges for serious violence and others who have been wanted for as long as three years. They are people who have failed to turn up to court or failed to carry out community-based court sentences.
The Daily Post and the police have teamed up to try to get as many as possible of these people back before the courts.
A new feature called Most Wanted will be published monthly in The Daily Post, starting Monday, with an extended list of people currently wanted by Rotorua police. It will be in addition to the weekly Crimewatch feature in Wednesday's newspaper.
Sergeant John Cassidy and Constable Karen Boyce - the two Rotorua police officers leading the drive to catch the alleged offenders - say too many people are flouting the law by not bothering to turn up to court. Now if they don't show, they'll risk being "named and shamed" in The Daily Post.
Ms Boyce, who is most days based at the Rotorua Courthouse, said an average of half a dozen people each day didn't bother to turn up for their court appearances.
Mr Cassidy said that wasn't good enough for victims who were waiting for justice to be served. "Our paramount concern is the victims who have had their lives on hold until those offenders are located and put before the courts." He said in some cases, victims were waiting to be paid reparation.
Mr Cassidy said there were some people in particular they wanted to arrest quickly, such as Steven Brockie McKay, who is wanted for wounding a person with intent to injure them.
He failed to face the charges in the Rotorua District Court four months ago on March 26.
"They are serious assault charges so we have concerns and are keen to get him in our grasp."
Mr Cassidy said Willis Horowai Ata is another they were keen to arrest as he hadn't shown up for community work for nearly three years. He was sentenced to do community work following convictions for a domestic assault.
Mr Cassidy said police had resorted to publishing names and photographs in The Daily Post because some people didn't want to be found. "We definitely make inquiries but they know their court dates. They have signed their bail bonds that they will be back in court on that date."
Mr Cassidy said some people might legitimately not know they were wanted as some of the warrants dated back to 2006 and 2005.
Others who knew they were wanted surely would want a clean record, he said.
"They must always be looking over their shoulder wondering when they will get the tap to get their warrants sorted out. These warrants are clogging up the court and police systems."
Ms Boyce said The Daily Post's Crimewatch section had worked well in the past and had prompted many people to hand themselves in. "They'll come to me and say 'shame, I was in the paper' or 'my mum brought me in because they saw me in the paper'. It's a really good tool."
* If you are on this list or you know where these people are, go to the Rotorua police station on Fenton St or contact Rotorua police on (07) 348 0099 or (0800) TIPOFF.