Neighbours criticise police cleanup

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 13:26 05/12/2013
Steve Jones
Dean Kozanic
CLEANING-UP CRIME: Sergeant Steve Jones says a clean and tidy community increases neighbourhood pride.
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Christchurch police are defending a targeted cleanup of Riccarton - despite the residents' association finding fault.

Riccarton West Neighbourhood Policing Team and volunteers from the Fire Service took to the streets last week to clean up the mess left behind by departing university students.

The inorganic cleanup included furniture and some recyclable materials that have long been an issue in the area.

However, Central Riccarton Residents' Association chairman Martin Taylor said he was concerned the effort was sending the wrong message and would perpetuate the dumping of rubbish in the streets.

"I think if you continue to clean up after people, they continue to make a mess," he said.

"I can appreciate what they were trying to do, but I think it's a misuse of police time.

"The police would be better served spending their time finding the people responsible."

Taylor is also a patrol member of the Community Watch and said he sees furniture and rubbish dumped all the time. It is a problem for the neighbourhood.

"I think the only solution is a negative consequence to discourage what is actually illegal behaviour."

He advocates for fines or community service to be imposed on offenders through the court system. He would also like to see the people involved come to a more constructive solution.

This would require the participation of the residents, the University of Canterbury Students' Association, the Community Watch and other interested parties.

Sergeant Steve Jones heads up the neighbourhood policing team in the area and said he considered the clean-up project a success.

"It's about seeing the big picture, not just the rubbish.

"This has been an ongoing problem for years, and we're just trying new solutions."

He said a clean and tidy community increased neighbourhood pride in the area and contributed to lower crime rates.

Graffiti in the area had all but disappeared and burglary was at an 11-year low.

"People can have pride in their neighbourhood. We're not condoning dumping rubbish."

He said lots of people came out of their houses when the police and firemen turned up, and the day was successful in promoting neighbourliness and community spirit.

"If we do nothing, it will keep happening," he said.

Taylor agreed it would be nice for a sense of community pride to return to the area.

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- The Press

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