Youth crime a 'time bomb'

ACTION PLAN: Henderson Massey Local Board chairwoman Vanessa Neeson says Henderson needs to create positive change.
ACTION PLAN: Henderson Massey Local Board chairwoman Vanessa Neeson says Henderson needs to create positive change.

Frightened retailers and landlords in Henderson are urging authorities to stamp out crime in the area.

The plea follows a string of violent crimes in the CBD and outlying suburbs.

At least one retail landlord says youth related crime in particular is a big concern for the business community.

PATROL BOOST: Waitakere police area commander Rob Cochrane.
PATROL BOOST: Waitakere police area commander Rob Cochrane.

He says it has been a "ticking time bomb" for years and has instilled fear in the town.

"There are kids are running around on alcohol and drugs destroying Henderson - it breaks my heart.

"They've threatened me and my business partner in the past.

"When it comes to the powers that be, no-one is actually seeing what is really going on."

The man, who does not want to be named, says dialling 111 gets him nowhere.

A property manager in Henderson says business owners face problems on a daily basis.

"People just don't want to invest, particularly in Railside Ave because there's not enough foot traffic.

"I've got tenants who are scared to go out the back of their shops," she says.

"There's all sorts going on - etching, graffiti and windows being smashed.

"Do we want a town full of roller doors?"

Waitakere police area commander Rob Cochrane says staff have policed the Henderson CBD "more than ever" over the past four months.

There have been more than 360 foot patrols in Henderson since January and police cars have rolled through the area more than 900 times so far this year.

Cochrane says a lot of work is being done with ethnic shopowners in particular to build up trust and confidence in the police.

"They might think the police don't want to know about it but we do," he says.

Police have a specialist youth development team that regularly deals with young people "starting to head down the wrong track" and puts them through programmes to help.

Cochrane says police are well aware of concerns among the public about the violent incidents of past weeks.

"We appreciate that there is a bit of fear in the community.

"I can reassure them that our staff are patrolling where they should be."

Henderson-Massey Local Board chairwoman Vanessa Neeson is promising to take further action.

She says the board is looking at introducing a Business Improvement District model, which has had relative success in tackling crime in Otara and Papatoetoe.

The model elects a town manager who liaises closely with businesses and police.

Business owners pay a slight increase in rates and the money goes into a collective bank account for the town manager to spend on promotion and investment.

"Henderson is the only large business area in Auckland that doesn't have a BID," Neeson says.

"Otahuhu is a good case point. There is a designated person who makes sure the streets are clean, paints over graffiti and so on.

"The completion of Massey isn't too far down the track so we have to act now for Henderson."

Neeson says CCTV cameras will also be installed.

Arun Kumar, 57, was stabbed in the neck at Railside Dairy in Henderson on Tuesday morning.

He was pronounced dead by paramedics shortly after.

A 13-year-old has been charged with murder and aggravated robbery while his 12-year-old male accomplice was also charged with aggravated robbery.

Western Leader