Police look set to have a greater presence in Raglan this Christmas-New Year – and they also plan to bring in reinforcements earlier than usual.
Top police brass flagged their intentions at a public meeting they held last week at the area school in the wake of community concerns over unruly behaviour about town last summer.
Western Waikato Area Commander Naila Hassan told the gathering of 30-odd community representatives that police “will and can do better this summer to keep the community safe”.
“It’s about prevention,” she said referring to complaints of drinking and fighting in the streets during the last Christmas-New Year break. The town was not as orderly as it could’ve and should’ve been, she added, because of the volume of holidaymakers and “how we policed”.
“What happened last year is why we are here (now),” Inspector Hassan admitted. Alongside her at the Tuesday night meeting were Senior Constable Kevin McGartland of Raglan Police and Sergeant Neil Mouncher, the officer in charge of Raglan and Ngaruawahia policing.
Inspector Hassan said she personally would be working in Raglan during the critical period because “I want to see it (the situation) for myself”.
“But we cannot police alone,” she insisted. “We need you too … the support of the community.”
She referred to the community as “capable guardians” who needed to report incidents like bad driving for instance so police could act accordingly. Road policing and family violence were important areas of crime prevention, she said, urging residents to be watchful.
There would be lower police tolerance to both unregistered cars in town and to breaches of the liquor ban over the holiday period, she told the meeting. “A lot of bad behaviour is around alcohol.”
Inspector Hassan has also requested a “demand picture” of Raglan for last summer so that trouble-spots can be identified and staff allocated to help prevent volatile situations erupting this time round.
“We will expand that police presence,” she promised, adding that numbers had to be based on evidence from last summer. “We are here for you and to keep everyone safe.”
Councillor Clint Baddeley welcomed the opportunity to improve the Christmas-New Year situation, and thanked Inspector Hassan for “giving us the confidence” in better policing. “The community will support you,” he reassured the police.
Those at the meeting discussed other concerns with the police around community responsibility in keeping the town safe. Police assured the public they would work with Waikato District Council as well as directly with local supermarket and bar managers in seeing that people adhered to the liquor laws.
Ocean View Bed & Breakfast owner Amanda Cron also mentioned family responsibility in terms of supervising teenagers’ drinking habits. “There’s an attitude here that it (underage drinking) is easy to get away with.”
Inspector Hassan agreed “we need to put some responsibility back on parents”.
Signage around the annual liquor ban was also deemed “inadequate” at the meeting, its small size and high positioning making it hard to notice.
Police assured Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator Kathy Gilbert they would work with the council on the possibility of getting CCTV cameras in carparks at places like Ocean Beach, Wainui Reserve and Manu Bay for both personal safety and to stop theft.
“We all of us need to set the standard in our community,” Inspector Hassan said of cooperation between police and the public. “It’s about reinforcing good behaviour, not putting up with bad behaviour.”
A greater police presence this year could be expected from the week before Christmas, coinciding with the start of the school holidays, she said.
“We will be policing to demand from you the community.”