Council and crime

Simon Bridges
National Party MP

In my final council commissioners series column, I want to talk about the growth in anti-social behaviour and crime in our city.

I won’t bore you with stats, and probably don’t need to, because if you log onto SunLive once in a while the cases are always there - from the petty to the truly serious: from alcohol abuse, graffiti and defecation to intimidation and assaults, through to open gang warfare and drug deals - all in our public places.

Indeed, Tauranga is now a crime capital in New Zealand, with our region having more gang members and meth than anywhere else in the country.

I don’t want to suggest this is all, or even mostly, a Tauranga City Council issue. Of course it isn’t. It falls on the Labour Party, police and government agencies to act and, to me, the answers are relatively straightforward.

With police failing to attend rising serious offending, we need a beefed-up police gang unit to harass and disrupt gangs every day, we need intensive inter-agency case management programmes and we need more rehab in the form of drug and alcohol and mental health beds.

That said, at the more ‘minor’ end, regarding the ‘petty’ stuff - from alcohol and drug abuse in our communities through to graffiti, abuse and intimidation - council does have a clear role. Through bylaws, rulemaking and resourcing it can clarify our communities’ expectations and then enforce them.

The so-called begging bylaw from a while back, for example, was controversial but clearly worked. Council and our commissioners must step up.

It may seem like a leap from Tauranga to New York, but a few of you may be familiar with the ‘Broken Windows’ policy from a couple of decades ago in the Big Apple. The theory was to sweat the small stuff, with a zero-tolerance approach to things like window breaking, graffiti, littering and the like.

Guess what? That approach worked and took New York from being one of the most dangerous city in the world to one of the safest at the time. Maybe council could care to take a similar approach in our small city?


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