Officer back on Blenheim beat

BACK IN TOWN: Constable Andrew Holdaway.
BACK IN TOWN: Constable Andrew Holdaway.

A Blenheim police officer appreciates the Marlborough lifestyle after a stint at an Auckland police district serving a population of more than 500,000 people.

Constable Andrew Holdaway arrived back from a two-week stint at Counties Manukau Police District in South Auckland on Saturday.

Holdaway, whose job title is intelligence officer and analyst, was one of about 10 Marlborough police officers sent on rotation to a North Island police station.

The idea behind the deployment was for Marlborough officers to get an idea of how other districts worked, he said.

More than 1000 staff worked at the Counties Manukau district headquarters, compared to about 80 staff in the Marlborough area, including Kaikoura, Picton and Havelock.

Holdaway spent time in different sections, including the criminal investigation bureau, intel, as well as on the frontline.

The district had two mobile police stations which were sent to areas with identified problems. Holdaway spent a day on one the mobile stations while it was on a six-week deployment in Papakura to deal with issues surrounding legal highs.

"There was a problem with a lot of people hanging around on the streets buying synthetic cannabis and causing trouble," he said.

That all went away the day the product was banned, he said.

Working in a busy district wasn't too different from working in Blenheim, he said.

A bigger population meant calls were coming in all the time. However, with fewer staff, Marlborough officers were just as busy as their colleagues in Auckland.

Youth offending was a lot worse in Auckland compared to Marlborough, accounting for an estimated 70 per cent of all crime in South Auckland, Holdaway said.

"They're not stealing to buy drugs or alcohol, they're just doing it for the here and now, the pure pleasure of doing it," he said.

Auckland police tended to be younger than those in Blenheim, he said.

"The experience level in Marlborough is huge compared to up there."

Marlborough police also had the advantage of knowing offenders in the region: "Being a smaller station, we have more of a handle on who's offending."

He enjoyed his time in Auckland, and said while he would love to work in such a fast-paced environment where something was always happening, he could never live there.

"Here we have one pursuit a month; up there you'll get one a night," he said. "But you live here for the lifestyle."

Tasman district commander Superintendent Richard Chambers said about 20 officers from the Tasman district - Marlborough, Nelson and the West Coast - were being stationed at different parts of the country.