No plans to bring back inner-city squad

Last updated 05:00 14/01/2014

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Police have no plans to reinstate the inner-city beat squad, despite concerns about troublesome young people congregating in central Christchurch.

Canterbury district commander Superintendent Gary Knowles said crime had reduced 59 per cent within the four avenues post-quake and staff were more effective tackling issues elsewhere, particularly alcohol-related crime.

"As the city develops and grows you've got to move your resources to where you can get your best bang for buck and I think at the moment we are doing a really good job," Knowles said.

"If there was a spike in crime in that area I would deploy my prevention teams in there, which would give me the chance to put in up to 50 staff, but we are just not seeing it."

There were no plans to reintroduce the 18-strong inner city team, which was disbanded four months ago.

However, police would monitor the situation closely, he said.

"The door is not closed, but at the moment I'm trying to get the best use of my people."

Retailers and security staff have raised concerns about intimidating groups of young people re-emerging in central Christchurch.

Their behaviour included spitting, bad language, harassing shoppers for money, wearing gang colours and graffiti.

City councillor and former Re:Start manager Paul Lonsdale said he planned to consult fellow councillors about asking police to bring back the beat squad.

Knowles said he was happy to meet Lonsdale and other councillors to discuss the issue.

He said he walked through the city at the weekend after reading an article in Saturday's The Press and saw one person begging for money. He saw no other evidence of the issues raised.

The area was monitored by foot patrols and an increasing number of security cameras while the Cathedral Square police kiosk was open and manned by a small team of police and volunteers.

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- The Press


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