PM urges community to engage with police

Last updated 00:13 24/06/2008

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Prime Minister Helen Clark today urged the South Auckland community to work with police and not take the law into their own hands.

She also gave details of a bill to look at alcohol sales which has been raised as an issue in recent violence in the area.

Three people of Asian descent have died in homicides in the South Auckland area in the past two weeks, and in at least one case, the shooting of liquor store owner Navtej Singh, there were criticisms of the emergency service response.

An Asian anti-crime group was set up three months ago in South Auckland and it is now taking a more proactive attitude.

"We are forming to protect our own people," member Peter Low told Radio New Zealand.

"If the police don't do it, we are going to do it ourselves. Simple as that."

Miss Clark said New Zealand's police force was community-based.

"I wouldn't want to see in New Zealand the development of vigilante style groups -- I think that's completely opposite to our culture," she said.

"I would urge those that have those concerns to keep working with the local police force on good community based response."

Police are reviewing how long it took them to allow medical help into where Mr Singh was lying after a 20-minute delay to secure the area.

Miss Clark said a coroner's inquest would say if that delay was vital.

"I think only the coroner's inquest will tell whether the time taken for the police to enter the premise had a material affect or not."

Miss Clark told reporters Cabinet Minister Lianne Dalziel was preparing a bill to look at issues of supplying alcohol to minors which followed the announcement of proposals last year.

The omnibus bill would be used to look at issues raised in Manurewa MP George Hawkins' bill around measures to make it tougher to get a licence to sell alcohol including looking at the impact on the community.

Miss Clark said the "substantial" new bill would stipulate the size and location of alcohol shops, how many there could be in an area, when they could open, and their proximity to other premises like schools. It would also require licensing authorities to give effect to local strategies.

She said central government was working with local agencies in Manurewa.

Ideas being looked at included Pacific patrols, better support for Maori wardens, two more youth workers and three more case managers in the area, funding for sports programmes, a youth drop-in centre, improvements to neighbourhood support and a programme to monitor vacant Housing New Zealand homes.

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