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Good neighbours help cut stats

Ten One Community Edition
14 April 2011

Burglary from dwellings in New Plymouth dropped 18 percent in the past two calendar years. One strategy that seems to be paying off is a strong partnership between Police and Neighbourhood Support.

As officer in charge of Westown Community Policing Centre in New Plymouth, Terry works closely with the local Neighbourhood Support group. “We’ve had a good network for some years but traditionally it meant nice meetings in nice areas with tea and scones.

“But it’s not only middle-class, retired people who get burgled, have their letterbox kicked over or their car broken into.

“We were missing a portion of our target audience – working parents who don’t have time to go to meetings.

“We needed to take our business to them at times that suited them better.”

About two years ago, Terry read in a strategic document that Police needed to be more active in vulnerable communities.

“To me, a vulnerable community is one that’s vulnerable to crime,” says Terry. He refocused the efforts of Neighbourhood Support to align with New Plymouth’s Hot Area Approach to burglaries.

Areas that suffer a spate of burglaries become ‘hot areas’. Information is collected weekly and passed on to a Neighbourhood Support field officer who then contacts the victim and offers to help set up a Neighbourhood Support group around them.

This initially involves the three houses across the road and the two houses either side of the victim.

“We then work to make those immediate neighbours capable guardians for one another,” says Terry.

“Some of the spin-offs have been quite significant. It gels people together and fosters a sense of community, not only in crime prevention, but knowing who the neighbours are.”

“Last year we set up 600 houses in New Plymouth using the Hot Area Approach – that’s 600 more people now in contact with their neighbours, looking out for one another and reporting suspicious behaviour to us.

“The bottom line is that a caring community is one that protects itself from crime,” says Terry.


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