Latest Police News
Conference: Commissioner Howard Broad
'Progress and Partnerships'
I read the theme of this year's conference as a renewed call to action.
'Progress and Partnerships' speaks of the work that has been achieved over the past 26 years since Police introduced Neighbourhood Watch as a crime prevention initiative in the late 1970s.
It reflects the growth of the organisation into an incorporated society that today works under a memorandum of understanding with Police, to build and strengthen positive contact with communities throughout New Zealand. And it indicates a direction for the future.
The theme also suggests that you – Neighbourhood Support – individually and collectively are taking responsibility to make our communities safer places to live in.
But, most provocatively, I think the theme 'Progress and Partnerships' reminds all players involved in this community-based initiative (Police, Central and Local Government, volunteers) to lift the vision.
Our aim in Police, therefore, is what I term "policing with confidence" – the New Zealand way.
"Policing with confidence" – the New Zealand way means restoring public trust that when the chips are down your police will be right there alongside you. And when other priorities get in the way of us turning up right away, we'll give you helpful advice on other agencies or services who might be able to assist where we cannot. We'll take all the public's calls for service seriously and we'll be appreciative of any information which gives us intelligence on what is happening out in the community in terms of criminal offending or threats to public safety.
Progress over past 12 months
First I must congratulate executive chairperson Ingrid Stonhill and the Board on their completion of a national restructure over the past 12 months.
It is timely that Police have just released a new strategic plan – to 2010.
Community reassurance - for confident, safe and secure communities
As a vocal supporter of community policing in the 1990s, I believe that harnessing its power in a modern 21st century policing context is the way to generate the service levels the public nostalgically wish for without the need to have a police officer literally standing on every street corner.
You see, with better intelligence systems and communications technology, the community police officer today is no longer just a "greet and grin" merchant. They are a vital and well equipped frontline resource working alongside and integrated with other frontline units to tackle crime in a scientific way.
Partnership with Police
In the same way, the Police see Neighbourhood Support as a valid community based organisation standing on its own feet and we are proud to have a close working relationship with you.
We are strong advocates – we believe in the value your organisation adds to creating safer communities to live in.
The Minister of Police, Hon Annette King, discerned very early on in
her time as our Minister that Neighbourhood Support are one of the very
few comprehensive networks in this country with tentacles into most neighbourhoods.
She has told your Executive, for instance, that in the realm of public
safety contingency planning for matters such as Bird Flu there's a strong
case to be made for mobilising the energy of Neighbourhood Support.
But Police can have a working relationship with Neighbourhood Support
that not only meets Police crime prevention and reduction objectives,
but also strengthens the ability of community members to play significant
roles within Neighbourhood Support. This can best be achieved by providing
encouragement, consistent liaison and the sharing of information.
I can assure you that will change. All Areas and Districts will be left in no doubt that I am a supporter of your movement and that I expect all areas and districts to do their bit to ensure the partnership is not a lop-sided one. I feel we have come a long way together since Neighbourhood Support was first introduced. There are many, many examples of the excellent work Police and volunteers have achieved together.
However, there is much more we can do, and I encourage each and every district commander across the country to look at the opportunities they have to work with volunteers in their communities to help prevent crime and reduce crime statistics.
A new vision for the future
So, what might a new vision for progress and partnership look like?
This district provides an inspiring example. Both Police and Neighbourhood Support people speak enthusiastically of the relationships developed in the BOP. I am told that other areas look with envy at how Neighbourhood Support works here.
I know that District Commander Superintendent Gary Smith is an active supporter of the organisation. He has tasked Inspector John Canning with encouraging all stations in his district to become involved in this initiative. Community constables are a good bridge between Police and the community – good to see so many community constables here today. I’m told that a particularly successful practice arising out of this constructive working relationship is that in Rotorua one community policeman rides a bicycle through the park each morning to round up truants.
It is also a tribute to the untiring work of volunteers in this district that Neighbourhood Support is on such a sound footing – nearly 2,000 groups I believe, about 300 of which have been established in the past 12 months. I'm not going to single anyone out – there will be a special time for that tonight and I don't want to spoil any surprises – but just want to thank you all for your efforts.
We are pleased to hear that the national organisation now has government funding for national coordination for the next two years. For our part, we are committed to continuing to produce crime prevention resources, and hope to be able to accommodate the future national coordinator at Police National Headquarters where he or she can work closely with our Operations Support, Crime Services, Public Affairs and Youth Education specialists.
Best wishes for your conference and the future.