More police on streets to combat disorder

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013

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Southern police are taking the fight against crime from the office to the pavements after more than tripling the number of foot patrols in the district in the past 12 months.

The extra foot patrols had resulted in a noticeable drop in disorderly behaviour and intentional damage in the Invercargill CBD during the past 12 months, police said.

Figures released by police show foot patrols have risen from a total of 1341 in 2011 to 4281 in 2012 in the Southern District.

The Southland Chamber of Commerce said the extra patrols had been noticed by businesses in the Invercargill CBD in the past 18 months.

Chamber chief executive Richard Hay said reports from businesses indicated shop owners felt more secure and those causing the problems were aware they were on notice.

"The chamber was told there would be more foot patrols and it is good to see the police department follow through with that assurance," he said.

Acting southern district area commander, Superintendent Steve Caldwell, said a reduction in paper work and streamlining case management systems were responsible for allowing the men and women in blue to have a more visible presence in their communities.

This was despite the police department being hamstrung by a zero budget increase over the past year and being forced to axe 10 support staff positions in the district, he said.

The increase in foot patrols in the southern district highlighted the police department's focus on increasing the visibility of frontline staff in the community, Mr Caldwell said.

A centralised district file management centre, established in Dunedin, is undertaking the extensive management of police files formerly being dealt with by frontline officers, he said.

"The process is about reducing the amount of paperwork that our frontline police are doing and getting our officers out into the community, preventing and solving more crime."

Police, like other government agencies, had to adapt to working in a tight fiscal environment, Mr Caldwell said.

Southland area commander, Inspector Lane Todd, said Southland's policing had fitted in with the new preventative policy and there had been more beat patrols as part of tactical tasking.

There had been a noticeable drop in disorderly behaviour and intentional damage in the Invercargill CBD during the past 12 months and this directly correlated to more foot patrols, Mr Todd said.

"If our officers are on the street and visible it will be a deterrent to criminals."

Police statistics for crime rates for 2012 were being finalised by the department but Mr Todd believed the numbers would show a drop in crime numbers in Southland.

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Invercargill area tactical response manager, Inspector Olaf Jensen, said police were out doing more bail checks, making more visits to hotels and pubs and were working with business and community organisations to be pro-active in crime prevention.

"Hot locations have been identified including licensed premises and late-night food outlets and they are being patrolled at high risk times."

Police officers were being supported by community patrols and Maori liaison staff, he said.

- The Southland Times

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