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Rural Neighbourhood Support Reinvigorated in Waitakere
23 June 2008
by Roger Eynon

I took the post of National Manager at the end of February 2008. The first site visit that I made was to Waitakere on 19th March after an invite to attend their AGM and the election of their inaugural Committee.

I asked districts for anecdotes and best practice to post on our site and received a diverse list from their coordinator, Roi.

These are her words:

"Neighbourhood Support Waitakere relaunched last year. We have worked closely with Police to help solve local problems.

Here are a few examples that have been reported:

A local community was having trouble with a gang of youths. They had broken into cars and houses and it was apparent that something had to be done. Concerned residents spent 2 – 3 weeks gathering evidence, including photographs of the youths caught in the act of committing a crime. The photos were presented at the Henderson Police Station and processed with statements from several residents. This case has gone to court, with two people being arrested and charged.

As a result of a number of reported burglaries, an emphasis was placed on home security when deliveries or cleaning services were calling at households as it was reported that a delivery person attempted to access a property when it was known no one was home. Diligent community members had taken down the license plates of cars and trucks, and had taken this information to the Henderson Police Station, This fresh information was distributed to all Community Police. As a result of the community based intelligence, a number of offenders were identified and arrested due to out standing warrants. (At the time of Roi writing this article - other offenders were also being processed for the above offences.)

In some key areas, boy racers were proving to be a big problem. Some injury to persons and damage to property had been caused. Verbal abuse and threats were made to residents. It was crucial that Police, Safe Waitakere, Waitakere City Council and Neighbourhood Support Waitakere work together to help solve the problem with a view to elimating offensive behaviour. A close working partnership with Community Policing has shown people that Neighbourhood Support cares about community safety and demonstrated that they can help solve issues one step at a time.

We have also worked with migrants and refugees who had reported that they were targets of racial abuse, vehicle crime, house burglaries and general verbal abuse. The Community Police have reported that this combined effort reduced crime with no incidents reported within the last four weeks (prior to 13/05/2008). Since identifying this issue, the Community Policing team have been proactive in the prevention of these offences and have utilised environmental design technology to reduce the risk of reoccurrence.

At our meetings people discuss issues they have come across and ask how Police can support them. With the relevant information in front of us, we ask those who attend if anyone has rung the police themselves. Some stated that they have, but some were a little reticent in replying or even calling Police. We have undertaken to raise awareness within neighbourhood groups so that all members of the community can be vigilant and act in good faith if they spot suspicious characters in their streets. We also state that it is good to share stories and experiences of what has helped and what hasn’t.

Householders in Waitakere City will be given a Neighbourhood Support information pack that explains how to go about setting up a group, managing it and who to contact for all sorts of different things. These packs have “getting to know your community” phone numbers for Waitakere City Council, Crime Prevention Unit (Safe Waitakere), Tag Out Trust (Graffiti), Civil Defence Emergency Management, NZ Police and NZ Fire Service. These packs and membership of Neighbourhood Support are free. We started with nothing and have built up a good network of social organisations. We have re-established some groups and have started new groups and have a growing register of households that prescribe to Neighbourhood Support's objectives. This has made Neighbourhood Support groups active in getting to know their neighbours as well as getting to know their community."

Roi Stephens
Waitakere City Coordinator


I am happy to report that Waitakere Neighbourhood Support goes from strength to strength and accesses national resources to distribute to the community. A great example of grass roots problem solving and making the community a safer place.

Roger.

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