The Waiuku community is embracing a long-awaited announcement that its under-resourced police force will double in numbers within the next few months.
This week, police bosses confirmed the currently stretched Waiuku station will get two extra constables and a sergeant. Currently there are just three officers on the beat, but one is on long-term leave.
"I have no doubt this will have a huge impact on the terrible crime statistics we have experienced in the past and we look forward to a better, safer community in future," says Waiuku/Awhitu Community Board member Jeda Wyatt.
"This is absolutely fantastic news, something we have wanted for a long time," says secretary of the Waiuku Business and Development Association Fiona Baker. "Our guys have been really under resourced for a long time."
The demand for more cops dates back several years, with the community, businesses, constables and senior police presenting a combined push for improved crime protection.
"We have been lobbying for more staff for a long time and this is what we have been wanting to go from three to six is great," says Waiuku constable Dave Yandall. "Now we have to thank the community for supporting us, the businesses and the petitions. Maybe now we can repay the community by providing a better service."
Around 4000 signatures have been collected on a petition calling for more sworn officers, more than half the population of Waiuku and Awhitu, says Jeda.
"The petition is to let the Government know how serious our situation is in Waiuku, with police numbers well below those enjoyed by every other town with a similar population and crime statistics well above those same towns."
Port Waikato MP Dr Paul Hutchison says: "I've been writing to the Minister of Police every six months for the last eight years, pointing out that Waiuku is grossly understaffed, there was unacceptable crime, from youth crime to violent crime, and the response times were a constant source of huge worry for constituents living out on the peninsula."
Pukekohe Police senior sergeant Rob Arnold says advertising for the three positions will begin this month.
He says the greater police presence on the ground in Waiuku will "give the community reassurance and a better feeling of safety."
Tuakau Police will also get a new staff member, upping the force numbers to four. This will be filled within the month.
- Franklin County News