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Basics essential in community policing

KARINA ABADIA
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2012
Harry Henderson
KARINA ABADIA
LOCALISED EFFORT: Sergeant Harry Henderson of the Glen Innes Neighbourhood Policing Team is happy with the drop in crime statistics.
Matt Knowsley
KARINA ABADIA
RELATIONSHIPS MATTER: Sergeant Matt Knowsley of Newmarket Community Team sees the value in working together for safer communities.

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Building relationships with the community and focusing on preventing crime is paying off for police.

Glen Innes neighbourhood policing team has been operating for just over a year now.

Sergeant Harry Henderson leads the team and says statistics show that aside from domestic violence, the crime rate in the area has dropped significantly.

"A lot of people were scared to come into the town centre before because of drunken behaviour," Constable Scott Burrows says. "There was an existing liquor ban but it was blatantly ignored."

Within a couple of weeks of police enforcing the ban, the number of people drinking on the street dropped significantly, Mr Burrows says. Underage drinking has also become less of a problem.

Liquor stores are helping police to foster a community that uses alcohol responsibly, Mr Henderson says. Seven stores have signed an agreement to close at 10pm. The stores issue trespass orders to anyone caught supplying alcohol to underage youths.

The burglary rate has also dropped.

"There is a direct link between drugs and property offending. The closing down of tinnie houses has greatly assisted with reducing property crime," Mr Henderson says.

The team will hold a Kids Safety Day in Point England Reserve on March 16. The focus will be bicycle and water safety as well as preventing injuries around the home.

Next year the team plans to focus on reducing domestic violence as well as provide activities for young people by setting up community gardens on vacant land and a fitness trail in a local reserve.

The new Tamaki Community Patrols group has been working with constable Alfred Faireka and already has around 35 members.

Sergeant Matt Knowsley is in charge of the community constables in the eastern area and says his team has focused on setting up officers to liaise with each community patrol.

The team was established in July and is based in Newmarket. Its members hold community constable portfolios but also work together on specific issues.

The last five months have been about forming an identity as a team and building relationships with the community, Mr Knowsley says.

It has made great progress assisting neighbourhood support networks and in setting up community patrols in Onehunga and Ellerslie as well as helping an established patrol group in Epsom.

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"It's about neighbours looking after neighbours. Through the co-ordinators we are able to provide a personalised point of contact. A police officer is assigned to each group and we assist with such things as training and vetting of members."

The team also hopes to build closer links with members of Orakei Marae and assist with the Mai Whanau programme.

Setting up a community patrol group for Orakei is under discussion and groups in Newmarket and Mission Bay are in the process of being formed.

The concept of prevention is common sense, Mr Knowsley says.

"I view what we do as ‘the old new'. The focus is on knowing what has always worked. We are supporting residents to own their streets."

Mr Henderson agrees that back to basics policing is the way forward.

"Our neighbourhood policing team is highly successful. The statistics shows it does work. It's not a new idea, it's just about turning back the clock."

- East And Bays Courier

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