Crackdown on Golden Mile

BLAIR ENSOR AND JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2012
Inspector Chris Scahill
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
TOP BRASS: Inspector Chris Scahill took over as Wellington area commander in March this year. He’s one of several high-profile additions to the city’s senior police hierarchy.
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A third of Wellington's crime takes place along the "Golden Mile".

Sexual assaults, fights, thefts and alcohol-fuelled disorder make up the large proportion of the incidents police attend in the central city between Parliament and the end of Courtenay Place.

Last year 5753 reported offences were in the Golden Mile hot spot, out of 16,627 across the city.

Police revealed the figures yesterday as they announced a multi-agency crime-fighting strategy, which they hope will help reduce central city crime significantly.

It means police taking control of Wellington City Council's network of CCTV cameras, more officers on the beat, a focus on the "science of crime", and working with other city agencies.

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

"We will crack down on crime in the CBD and I make no apology for that," Wellington area commander Inspector Chris Scahill said yesterday.

Victims, central city residents and retailers have backed the move, after what they perceive as an increasing level of crime at weekends.

Under the strategy, control of the council's network of cameras, which includes 11 that monitor the CBD, will be moved to Wellington central police station in Victoria St. That would free council security guards to patrol the streets.

New cameras could be added to other problem areas. The changes are expected before the end of the year.

A new team of police will be created to identify and resolve problems in the central city.

The number of police walking the beat has already been bolstered, with Youth Aid, community constables and CIB staff, who traditionally worked day shifts, now required to work at night.

ACC figures show 2500 claims, costing more than $4.4 million, were made for alcohol-related injuries in Wellington city in 2010-11.

Two-way radios are planned for security staff at licensed bars in the inner city, so they can inform each other and police about drunks who might make trouble. This already happens in Auckland and Dunedin.

A lot of the new strategy stems from studying logs of the time, date and location of incidents police attend. The result is statistics that allow police to map crime hot spots and direct staff accordingly.

"It's not tough policing; I'd call it smart policing - having the staff in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing," Mr Scahill said.

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"I think for a metro city the size of Wellington - although there's issues - I think the level of crime . . . is not extreme."

The chairwoman of Wellington's Inner-City Association, Geraldine Murphy, said many of its 400 voluntary members - including apartment and business owners and residents - were frustrated by graffiti, and "people being sick and peeing in doorways".

NIGHT-TIME DANGERS

Kane Le'aupepe experienced the violent side of Wellington's inner city when an early morning brawl left him unconscious with a broken neck bone.

The 19-year-old Johnsonville colts rugby centre was allegedly "king hit" and beaten unconscious by a group of nine men during the incident in Courtenay Place at 2.30am on April 15.

It was believed to have been initiated by a former Upper Hutt colts rugby player he had had a minor squabble with on the field the previous season. The man accused of the attack is now before the courts.

Increasing inner-city safety was a good idea, Mr Le'aupepe said. He was now a lot more aware of safety on weekend nights, and stuck with his mates.

City Stop and Tony's Liquor owner Tony Loveday said he lost about $70,000 a year to weekend "petty" theft in his Manners St stores. If police were too busy, he wanted to see a trained force patrolling the inner city.

BY THE NUMBERS

Last year there were 5753 reported offences in Wellington CBD out of a total of 16,627 across the city. The breakdown:

Violence: 644

Sexual offences: 48

Disorder: 765

Dishonesty: 2893

*Figures for wilful damage, drug offences, and administrative offences, such as breaches of bail, make up the remainder of the reported crime.

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

- © Fairfax NZ News

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