Police target inner-city crime

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 06:56 17/12/2012
Inner city policing
DIEGO OPATOWSKI/Fairfax NZ

The team, from left, Constable Jane Gowans, Constable Ross Barnett and Sergeant Matt Boyce in Cuba Mall.

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The bobby on the beat has been bolstered by a new team of police set up to target crime in Wellington's central city.

Led by Senior Sergeant Hamish Milne, the group of six police, wearing high-vis vests, hit the streets a month ago, working with businesses to identify and resolve problems in and around the Golden Mile.

Statistics show that a third of the capital's crime happens in the inner-city stretch between Parliament and the end of Courtenay Pl.

Prevention manager Senior Sergeant Mark Buttar says the Wellington City Prevention Team was set up as part of a new targeted approach to reduce crime in the central city.

Police have already taken control of the monitoring of Wellington City Council's network of CCTV cameras and a new roster system means more police are out targeting alcohol-fuelled crime on Friday and Saturday nights.

Victims, central city residents and retailers backed the new approach this year, after what they perceived to be an increasing level of crime at weekends.

The initiative is part of the police's new Prevention First model, which aims to reduce crime by 13 per cent by 2015.

Reported crime for the capital is already down 23 per cent on this time last year and it is hoped a more preventative approach in the central city will have even more of an impact, Mr Buttar says.

Dishonesty-related offences make up about two-thirds of inner- city crime so one of the new central city team's main focuses is working with businesses - shops, bars and carparks - often targeted by thieves, to "crime harden" them to stop things being stolen, he says.

Police have suggested coat checks in many bars will prevent the theft of cellphones, handbags and clothing. Increased security measures in some carparks is also being discussed, he says.

"Our mindset has definitely changed in that we are making this prevention first rather than prevention last."

Contact Blair Ensor
Police reporter
Email: blair.ensor@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @blairensor

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