CBD crime: What the latest police data shows

Rotorua area commander Inspector Herby Ngawhika (right, inset) says reported crime in the CBD is down - a trend bar owner Reg Hennessy (left, inset) wants to see continue. Photo / Andrew Warner.

Reported crime in Rotorua’s inner city has dropped, a top cop says - a trend one hospitality stalwart calls a “wonderful trajectory”.

It comes about six months after Rotorua Lakes Council and police opened an Inner-City Community Safety Hub, which was announced following public after-school attacks on teen girls near a CBD bus stop.

The hub near the corner of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai Sts is used by police and other community safety organisations such as Māori wardens, the council’s Safe City Guardians and contracted security.

The aims of the collaborative space included building public confidence in CBD safety and decreasing crime and antisocial behaviour.

Amid concerns from inner-city businesses about safety and a spate of youth crime and ram raids, the council and police also developed a Community Safety Plan, which aimed to halve violent crime and antisocial behaviour in the CBD by 2026.

Rotorua area commander Inspector Herby Ngawhika updated councillors on progress at a Community and District Development Committee meeting last week.

Ngawhika gave statistics for five offence types, comparing the six months the hub has been active with the same period the year before. It focused on the CBD and did not include the Central Mall.

Offending in all categories was down.

Trespass offences reduced the most, by 39 per cent, and property damage was down 37 per cent.

Drug and antisocial offences were down 24 per cent and dishonesty 14 per cent.

Violence offences dropped 26 per cent.

“I think it’s a good start for us, it’s a positive start,” Ngawhika said.

He noted crime statistics would fluctuate over time.

Rotorua area commander inspector Herby Ngawhika (left) and Rotorua Mayor Tania Tapsell cutting the ribbon at the new Rotorua Inner City Community Safety Hub.

Speaking about work going forward, he said police had underutilised the hub space and this month hired a second CBD-based community constable to boost the police presence.

He said a reset was needed and believed wardens also needed to be more visible.

Committee chairwoman Sandra Kai Fong said it was good to see the “positive progress” and how the hub was effective.

Rotorua Mayor Tania Tapsell said in a statement there was a rapid reduction in crime in the CBD since it actioned the safety plan and established the hub.

“We made community safety a priority and have been working smarter by joining our limited resources to tackle crime and social issues over the past six months since our Inner-City Community Safety Hub was opened.

“[The] council’s CCTV network has been crucial to this success, helping to ensure those who commit crime are held accountable, and either caught immediately or within a short timeframe of an incident occurring,” Tapsell said.

‘Wonderful trajectory’

Responding to the data, Reg Hennessy, the long-time owner of Rotorua CBD’s Hennessy’s Irish Bar, said it was a “wonderful trajectory to be on”.

The Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty president said he was cautiously optimistic the trend would continue and noted the data used was based on the timeframe the hub had been open, which was not a long enough period to be certain of long-term change.

Hennessy said he believed there were multiple factors as to why crime may have reduced and the decrease could not be solely attributed to the hub.

“We have seen more police movement which is really encouraging.”

Reg Hennessy, Hospitality New Zealand Bay of Plenty president and the owner of Hennessy's Irish Bar.

He said the past five or six years had been an apprenticeship of sorts for businesses such as his to learn how to handle trouble on a “nightly basis”, and this had become “less of a distraction” for them.

He said other types of community action over the years had also helped, as had a reduction in emergency housing motels.

He believed the number of homeless people in the inner city had gone down, but was still having issues with youths.

LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.


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