Police 'cleaning up' skate park

Invercargill police are working hard to change the troubled reputation of the city's skate park.

The Neighbourhood Policing Team based at south city have worked with the Invercargill City Council and community groups to clean up the park.

Constable Chris Maguire said the area had a perception of attracting a lot of thefts, truancy and drug and alcohol offending but there had been a drop in offending since the park was reopened.

The original skate park was built in 1998 and was upgraded in May 2014.

The park was set away from the busy Elles Rd and was obscured by vegetation and had poor lighting, he said.

"Parents stated that they were concerned incidents of bullying and assaults would continue if the skate park remained in its current location, which they observed was 'hidden form the public eye' due to it being enclosed by trees."

The policing team felt the upgrade was an opportunity to wrestle control away from people with anti-social behaviour and deliver it back to the public, he said.

"Our objective was to encourage family groups back so there was consistent adult presence to deter juvenile offending."

The council installed CCTV cameras, improved the lighting and removed some of the bushes and trees that obscured the view from the road, he said.

Now, members from the police team and foot patrols regularly visited the park and actively engaged with users to build a rapport.

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More families had started to use the skate park, he said.

The park could go either way without a sustained effort from police and community buy-in, so it very much remained a community project, he said.

 - The Southland Times

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