Porirua police station hours cut

KRIS DANDO
Last updated 08:58 28/01/2014

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Porirua Police Station's front counter is no longer being staffed 24 hours a day, leading to disquiet from civic leaders.

The city's police station is open from 7am till 8pm, Monday till Friday, and 8am till 4pm on weekends.

Commanders had the discretion of closing the counter in favour of putting a constable out on the street, Kapiti Mana Police acting area commander Inspector Mal Schwartfeger said.

He said public concern about restricted opening hours needed to be put in context, with police putting more effort into prevention and quick response times.

''The model of having someone sitting behind a counter, waiting for drop-ins, has changed,'' he said.

''Reporting of crime happens quicker if you're calling 111 or the crime reporting line [238 th1400 in Porirua]. 
''We can get the right people in the right place at the right time, using our resources much, much better.''

Mr Schwartfeger disputed any suggestions that having the front counter shut overnight was because of budgets being cut or political decisions being made. 

It was a change in philosophy, he said - having officers more visible and victims of crime using the 111 system. Foot patrols in the Kapiti-Mana police district had increased by 460 per cent in the last two years, he said.

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said police in the city were doing a fantastic job and the fact the crime rate continued to drop was a testament to their work. 

But he took issue with not having the station's front counter manned 24 hours a day, describing it as unnerving.

''People want to know there's cover; they want somewhere to go in an emergency,'' Mr Leggett said. 

''My feeling is that central  dhgovernment is putting the squeeze so much on police budgets that corners are being cut. 

''Police must take into account the traditional view that the public can go to the police station 24/7. It's what we expect.''

Mana MP Kris Faafoi was similarly concerned.

''We are a city, for goodness sake,'' he said. ''It's important police have that guarantee in place for residents. It's good, old-fashioned policing.''

As a former police spokesman for Labour, Mr Faafoi said he was aware of the pressure on police budgets.
''This is not about the rank and file, who do a fantastic job every day. 

''But the budgets are getting hammered and something like this [restricted front counter hours] comes down to cost-cutting. ''This is not for major crimes, but it gives peace of mind.''

Mr Leggett and Mr Faafoi said victims of domestic violence often preferred to visit a police station's front counter.

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Mr Schwartfeger said if people were concerned about the front counter situation, he would welcome feedback.

Inspector Mike Hill, head of the Hutt Valley Police district, said the Upper Hutt station had restricted hours.

The Lower Hutt central station was open 24 hours a day, but he said that was being reviewed. Counter surveys in the Hutt Valley had shown that people walking in to report a crime had fallen steadily, and Mr Hill said having constables patrolling was more effective.

Mr Leggett said he would like a meeting with Kapiti Mana Police to discuss the issue

- Kapi-Mana News

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