More police patrol local streets

By Brendan Manning


Local police are hitting the streets in a show of force aimed at keeping the community safer.

Wanganui police frontline response manager, acting Senior Sergeant Andrew McDonald, said foot patrols were a key part of day-to-day policing.

Police conducted 115 foot patrols in Wanganui last December, and 114 in December 2011.

Twelve public place assaults were recorded last December, with another six against police, compared to 11 public assaults in December 2011, with none against police.

The main Wanganui areas being targeted by police foot patrols were currently the Gonville/Puriri area and the CBD, Mr McDonald said.

"In the CBD on specific nights public disorder can be an issue. However; we have seen positive changes in behaviour and a drop in disorder due to the presence of our frontline staff."

Foot patrols and the high visibility of officers provided reassurance to the community, Mr McDonald said.

However, just last month, local paper boy Richard Frederick was bashed with a softball bat in Gonville.

His attacker asked "Are you ready to die today?" before demanding his glasses and $400 cash.

The assailant threw the glasses on the ground and stomped on them, before telling the boy, "I don't want to see you around here again".

Mr McDonald said while foot patrols were mainly being deployed to high-risk areas, they were operating on an as-needed basis.

The Masters Games, which meant a large number of people were congregating in one spot, was a prime example.

"Police presences at events such as this are vital, not only from a safety and reassurance point of view but also for preventing opportunistic crime from happening.

"The roll-out of the 'prevention first' model has freed up officers' time to be proactive in their communities by reducing the necessity for staff to be stuck behind a computer completing reports."

Police Minister Anne Tolley said frontline foot patrols nationwide jumped by 70 per cent last year, rising from 40,918 in 2011 to 69,773 in 2012.

Police were increasing their focus on crime prevention by deploying more officers on the beat to tackle and prevent crime, Mrs Tolley said.

"Staff are being deployed much more strategically, in areas and at times when police know there is a greater risk of crime taking place.

"This smarter approach, with the right people in the right places at the right times, means officers are more visible and better able to prevent crime," she said.

The police presence also sent a clear warning to criminals, she said.

"In the last two fiscal years, we have seen crime rates drop by 5.9 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. That translates as 47,438 fewer crimes and thousands fewer victims of crime."

Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said the increased foot patrols were "very much a part of the ethos" of the "prevention first" policing model.

Reduced bureaucracy was unshackling frontline staff from their desks to spend more time out in the communities, she said.

"Prevention has always been a function of policing. We are just creating a better framework to help us fulfil that responsibility."

Nationwide, police conducted 7428 foot patrols last December, compared to 5217 in December 2011.


By the numbers


Central police district

3662 foot patrols in 2011

6330 foot patrols in 2012 (72.8 per cent increase)

Nationally

40,918 foot patrols in 2011

69,773 foot patrols in 2012 (70.5 per cent increase)


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- Wanganui Chronicle

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