Security will be upgraded at a popular Northland tourist hotspot where nearly 2000 kiwi campers and visitors are expected on any day over summer.
The moves are to help protect council staff and the public with a summer influx of visitors expected and the high risks of assault and car break ins.
The Kaipara District Council has budgeted $350,000 in its Long Term Plan for Kai Iwi campground facilities, including safety improvements and providing an accommodation building on site.
Council staff identified potential security improvements like having security gates and engaged security consultants, Fear Free NZ to undertake an independent review and provide recommendations.
The area of highest risk relates to staff working alone, at night, with unreliable communications.
Kai Iwi Lakes are situated within the 640-hectare Taharoa Domain which consists of three lakes and two campgrounds— Pine Beach with a capacity of 480 and Promenade Point that holds 120 campers.
During peak season from mid December through to Easter, there can be an estimated 1000 visitors per day on site in addition to 600 campers undertaking a variety of activities.
"Early indications have already been observed with a substantial increase in camper van visits to Kai Iwi Lakes compared to the same period in previous years which averaged about five a week compared to five a night currently," the security report said.
The report, presented to the council's Taharoa Domain Governance Committee that met yesterday,
said Kiwis were now visiting parks and recreational areas within Kaipara in far greater numbers while international borders were closed.
"Given Kai Iwi lakes proximity to Auckland, considerably higher numbers of visitors than usual are likely, which will increase the risk of conflict and safety-security related incidents."
Among incidents reports at the domain in the past include alcohol-fuelled disorder, a drunken teenager threatened people with a knife, drivers performing donuts and burnouts, and several car break-ins next to the toilet block on Kai Iwi Lakes Rd.
Fear Free NZ said relatively basic actions could be taken to considerably improve staff safety and overall security.
The company recommended a minimum of two parks officers on duty at night at Pine Beach campground with at least one to undertake enforcement since the risk of assault, conflict and security-related incidents during peak periods was high.
Staff would be unable to call for assistance if assaulted, threatened, or during other emergencies due to unreliable cell phone coverage in parts of Taharoa Domain.
The current hand-held radios only have basic line-of-site capabilities and are unreliable in bad weather or if obstructed by topography, trees and distance.
KDC has been advised to upgrade radios to VHF or a similar system.
Fear Free has also recommended an upgrade of CCTV as the current system is unable to detect incidents adequately and record them properly.
There are presently 14 CCTV cameras operating in the domain, although they are not connected by a common system.
"An updated system should provide the ability for key staff and KDC operations to monitor cameras remotely with motion activation capability.
"Footage should be kept for 30 days rather than the current 7-day capacity in case of enquires and investigations. This may also include Covid-19 related investigations where a person/s movement and activity require verification.
"Due to reported incidents of vehicles being broken into with valuables been
taken, advised to install two extra cameras covering the toilet block area on Kai Iwi Lakes road to detect/deter car break-ins, wilful damage and disorderly related incidents."
The entrance to the domain has two metal gates that are manually closed and a single CCTV camera.
During peak season, staff on duty overnight have to travel 2 kms from the Pine Beach campground to unlock the gates in the event of an emergency or similar. Poor cell phone coverage can make this process more challenging.
"As is the practice at other large parks and domains, particularly if infrastructure and camping facilities are present, we advise an automated gate system is installed at the main entrance."
The report also mentions continued staff training relating to conflict de-escalation, incident reporting, working alone, communications, lockdown, and robbery training for cash handlers.