A crime-busting scheme making use of the eyes and ears of hundreds of volunteers has started in central Whangarei.
CitySafe - which involves the Whangarei District Council, police, the Fire Service, ACC and many other agencies - is designed to nip crime in the bud by giving people by a non-emergency number to call at any time, and by letting trouble-makers know they're being watched.
Tbe scheme started last year but a redesigned version, with more publicity and more volunteers, was launched yesterday. Taxi drivers, rubbish collectors, bus drivers, security guards, shop owners and members of the public - identified by specially designed badges - are the new recruits for the programme.
Council community safety advisor Philip Shaw said CitySafe logos would be placed around the CBD, especially in trouble spots like carparks, to send the message that someone was watching.
People would be able to call a dedicated phone line for non-emergency reports such as broken glass, defaced signs, rubbish, graffiti or people loitering around inviting trouble.
"It's really about activating the community, making it okay for every single one of us to prick our ears up if something seems to be out of place or wrong, and giving us a safe way to call attention to the problem and get it solved," he said.
Volunteers would also use the dedicated phone number to report disorder and crime, and act as deterrents for bad behaviour in CBD.
The calls would be directed to Environmental Northland staff, who also look after Whangarei's parking and dog control. They would then decide whether police action or another plan of attack was needed.
Mr Shaw said the scheme would also help reduce alcohol-fuelled violence on inner city streets.
Diane Kepa, a Maori warden in Whangarei for the past 12 years, said CitySafe was a great idea and would complement her work.
"It's fabulous... this is just what we need," she said.
Other recent anti-crime initiatives include a camera installed in Second Ave especially to catch taggers, and a barrier in the Vine St car park to stop cars entering after 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights.
• The CitySafe number is 0800 844 657 (0800 THINKSAFE).
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