Some business owners in Rotorua's CBD are urgently calling for further safety measures on the city streets as they say unruly behaviour has increased, despite a recent summer safety campaign.
Hennessy's Irish Bar publican Reg Hennessy said, in his opinion, the town was being overrun by "bullies, thugs, and drug dealers", and the whole tone of the town was going down.
"If any business owner in Rotorua isn't concerned about the state of our streets, they're obviously not very attentive.
"Our streets are not safe. A lot of people just won't come into town because of it."
His comments come after a Rotorua Daily Post story this week in which CBD shop owners told of their fears the inner city was becoming a ghost town with the rise of empty shops.
In December, Rotorua police and Rotorua Lakes Council jointly launched a central city summer safety campaign after police survey results showed many people felt unsafe in the inner city at night.
The campaign saw police, security staff and the Safe City Guardians increase their presence in the inner city between 8am and 4am.
It also involved more frequent monitoring of the council's CCTV footage from Thursdays to Sundays, with daily briefings for staff.
Rotorua Lakes Council's operations group manager Henry Weston said joint patrols would "continue through the winter months although at a slightly reduced level, as appropriate to what is required".
Weston said the increased CCTV monitoring and daily staff briefings would continue.
When asked to clarify what a "slightly reduced level" meant and the dates the reduced level would run, the council said the summer safety campaign was operating as it had all summer and the winter campaign would run from early April until late September.
The council statement said this would result in a reduction of patrollers from eight to six, not a reduction in the number of patrols.
The council is also recruiting for a CCTV operator to increase the active monitoring hours from 40 to 80.
Rotorua police area commander Inspector Anaru Pewhairangi said police met regularly with councils and social agencies to discuss issues within the communities.
He said police strongly encouraged anyone who felt threatened or unsafe to notify police immediately so they could respond as needed.
Pewhairangi said police preferred to work with people to get them the help they needed but would take action if community members felt intimidated or threatened.
However, Hennessy's views were echoed by other owners who opened up to the Rotorua Daily Post about the issue of safety on the condition of anonymity.
They believed identifying themselves would put them in danger.
Several said they closed up early because of what was happening outside their doors.
This included people passing-out, fighting, swearing, banging into their windows and intimidating them and passers-by.
The shop owners said the behaviour in the streets was having a flow-on effect of dead streets, no customers, and would eventually result in more empty shops.
The owners said the police presence in the central district had helped significantly over summer.
A tourism shop owner said the behaviour was not only damaging to business but gave Rotorua a bad name.
"It's disgusting with the behaviour out here ... There are fights nearly every day."
She said fights in the street recently had left her shop empty for two and a half hours as she watched people approach, then cross the road to avoid interfering with riff-raff.
One dairy owner said they now had two people in the store at all times as a matter of safety after being harassed.
The futures of the businesses spoken to were uncertain and helpless.
"We need our city to be safe."
Weston said the aim of the safety campaign was to create a safe environment for CBD workers and visitors.
"While our CCTV monitoring picks up a lot of activity and in some cases allows us to be proactive about de-escalating a situation before it becomes a problem, it is really important – as both council and the police have previously emphasised – that people report anti-social and criminal behaviour, including intimidation, to the police, as its happening, so that it can be dealt with.
"We continue to meet with police for daily briefings and reports of antisocial behaviour in our inner city are low, and have significantly decreased since the implementation of the summer safety campaign."