The Whanganui Rural Community Board has been rewarded for its leadership in rural crime prevention at the New Zealand Community Boards Conference in New Plymouth.
The board won the Yvonne Palmer Leadership Trophy for their strategy in which they funded and installed security cameras throughout the Whanganui District's rural roading network.
The trophy is part of the Community Boards Executive Committee Best Practice Awards that recognise excellence in the implementation of projects and initiatives in local governance.
Board chair David Matthews (Tex) said the trophy success was a feather in the cap for the board.
"It's an honour to be recognised at the community boards conference and this award is the result of a real team effort," he said.
"There's been a lot of support shown from Whanganui's rural community, both financially and in terms of labour to install cameras and several companies have also dug deep into their own pockets to help, for which the board is very grateful."
The board has been a previous winner at the awards, winning the supreme award in 2013 for its work in rural broadband extension throughout the Whanganui District.
"The other community projects presented at the conference were impressive, so it's great to be considered in the same company," Matthews said.
"I was approached at the conference several times by community board members about our security camera strategy, so I feel our work has had a very positive influence on other boards around New Zealand."
The rural crime prevention strategy was formed in 2018 after several rural property owners installed private security cameras, attempting to prevent stock and machinery thefts.
With rural security and safety as its goal, the board teamed up with the New Zealand Police to identify Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras as the most effective tool in reducing rural crime.
The police also provided surveillance advice on the district's security weak spots.
The board has made grants totalling $6500 to 11 applicants for camera maintenance and power use and is also working with respective community groups to develop a policy governing access to video footage.
Since the installation of the cameras, police have used them on numerous occasions, accessing footage to gather evidence that has ultimately led to the conviction of rural offenders.
The continued presence of ANPR cameras in several rural areas has also resulted in a reduction of reported offences.
Rural community constable Keith Butters said recognition for the board's efforts was totally justified.
"Together we are combating rural crime and I congratulate the board on their innovative thinking," Butters said.
"A large part of my role is crime prevention, so a real advantage of the cameras is also their deterrent nature. If there's no crime, then we don't have a victim."