An Australian crime-prevention consultant has given Rotorua a tick for doing things right.

"Rotorua is no worse than anywhere else but being a tourist town it must keep on top of minimising opportunities for crime to occur in the inner city," said consultant and former policeman Tony Lake.

He was one of several guest speakers at a crime-prevention seminar organised by the Rotorua District Council and Inner City Focus group at Energy Events Centre yesterday.

Mr Lake focused on crime prevention through environment design (CPTED), a widely studied concept that included minimising crime through better surveillance and accessways, street "ownership", and providing attractive public places in which to gather.


The four-hour seminar - Better Business through Active Crime Prevention - was attended by about 30 people from various groups including retailers, police, security consultants, health and safety advisers, and the council.

Mr Lake said Rotorua provided attractive public playgrounds that drew people to them to sit and talk, deterring unwelcome elements.

The recent mural paintings on traffic control boxes was an example of residents showing they cared for their environment and taking ownership.

"I'm really impressed how there is great interaction here between the council and other stakeholders in looking after tourists and preventing crime opportunities," he said.

Badly designed shop entrances and hiding store interiors behind "specials" could contribute to higher criminal behaviour, he told the meeting.

A survey of Auckland businesses showed criminals targeted stores where employees and contents were hidden from the street by large signs, he said.

"It is important the staff can see out of the store on to the street and are not hidden by signage.

"It is important not to hide behind signs and open up the shop instead - this is especially true with off-licences."

Recessed doorways and vacant unsecured buildings gave criminals opportunities to commit crime, he said. "If a space is not being used then close it off, don't leave it open."

It was also important for retailers to "own" the street by painting murals on buildings to help prevent vandalism and graffiti, he said.

"Personification of the street creates an identity and ownership and sends out a message that 'we' own the street and we won't put up with any crap.

"It also gives the impression that someone is caring about the community."

Narrow or blocked accessways could encourage crime.

"Criminal opportunities will become less if there are more people around in public places."