Two justice advocates say an influx of "undesirables" is making Rotorua unsafe, despite a new survey claiming Bay of Plenty residents are "significantly less likely" to experience crime.
The Ministry of Justice New Zealand Crime and Victims survey was released yesterday , detailing more than 8000 Kiwis' experiences of crime.
The survey says people from Bay of Plenty and Taranaki were significantly less likely to experience crime across all offences.
Bay of Plenty residents, along with those in Otago, Southland and Tasman, were also significantly less likely to experience household offences.
However, the same survey said those living within the country's most deprived areas - a category a number of Rotorua suburbs fall into - were significantly more likely to experience crime.
Sensible Sentencing Trust Rotorua area co-ordinator Peter Bentley, and his wife, Maggie, were surprised by the survey.
"The Bay of Plenty may be safe but Rotorua certainly isn't," Maggie said.
"I don't feel as safe here as I did 10 years ago. I hear what other people say and their feelings also reflect my own that they don't feel safe."
Maggie said drugs, homelessness and unemployment all played a role in making the city feel unsafe.
Peter echoed her sentiments, saying Rotorua had become a "magnet for those at loose ends".
"There has been an influx of undesirables who we are now housing and feeding at our expense and with that has come a destruction of security in the area.
"Glenholme is no longer the safe little suburb it once was."
According to the survey, Māori were significantly more likely to experience crime, as were people between 20 and 29 and 40 and 49.
Those living in sole-parent households were more at risk of being victims of crime, as were those living in government accommodation.
Neighbourhood Support Rotorua co-ordinator Richard Perkins said the biggest problem was domestic violence and youth violence.
He said many young offenders were let off with slaps on the wrist, prompting them to offend again, without fear of consequences.
"Domestic violence is our biggest issue and takes up considerable police time and resources."
Overall, Perkins said crime had not changed in the city; he had not noticed more cases but equally had not noticed a decrease.
"For the most part, I think Rotorua is a nice place but a lot of silly things go on. If we are one of the lowest places for crime, I'd love to see what other places are like.
Social advocate and local councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said despite the survey results, the Bay of Plenty still had its crime hot spots and Rotorua was one of them.
"Not all areas but certainly some suburbs are known for criminal activities and have more than their share of criminals living in these places.
"Poverty is one of the main drivers for their criminal behaviour and activity. If they don't have much - little disposable income, crap housing, possibly poor health - then they don't particularly care much for others and their property."
Raukawa-Tait said the kindness emphasised during lockdown would be, in her opinion, short-lived.
"Learned behaviour is hard to turn around, especially when there is no real desire to do so.
"Māori are in the thick of it as heavy perpetrators of crime and sadly as victims as well.
The police have their work cut out but so have concerned family members. Many, I fear, have given up and if that happens, what hope have the children of criminal parents got of living a life where they can reach their full potential?"
In response to the Rotorua Daily Post's specific questions about perceptions of safety in the Bay of Plenty, a police spokesperson said: "Police are working through the results of the Crime and Victims Survey and how best to utilise them as part of our evidence-based approach."
"These findings help identify likely victims of crime in New Zealand and those communities who are most at-risk of victimisation.
"We will work with Justice and the wider sector to further interrogate the data, particularly around reasons for not reporting to police and how support can be provided to both victims and offenders.
"Police encourages anyone who has been the victim of a crime to report it. We understand the public need to trust police to come forward and have confidence that their incident will be dealt with, which is why our vision is to have the trust and confidence of all."