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Police in firing line as residents reveal crime, violence fears

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16 May 2024, 9:25 PM

Police in firing line as residents reveal crime, violence fearsResidents spoke of challenges in reaching the police and the delays in having incidents investigated. Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia

Lucy Xia

Aucklanders who have been assaulted and robbed have told Police Minister Mark Mitchell at a packed community meeting on Thursday night they feel let down by the police.

More than 60 people turned up at the Mount Roskill community centre to talk to Mitchell and their local MP Carlos Cheung about law and order.

Many spoke of their frustration about rising crime, youth violence and the inadequate and slow response from police.

Senior police officers were also there.

Property manager Mark Price, who looks after emergency housing, said he had been assaulted multiple times by tenants and people trespassed who were visiting the tenants.

"I have been pushed, shoved, I've had a knife pulled on me, I've been punched, I've been held up against the wall, I've been choked out," he said.

But Price said police have never turned up after he reported the incidents, and that they told him they were resource tight.

He said he felt neglected, unsafe, and unable to do his job.

Others expressed the challenges of reaching the police and the delays in having their cases investigated.

Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia

A Mount Roskill resident told the meeting he was frustrated that the new local police station on Stoddard Road wasn't open to the public, and has "closed until further notice," on the door leading to the public counter.

The man said he wanted to report repeat offenders in his community and would just like to talk to a local officer who knew the area.

Auckland City West area prevention manager Inspector Wayne Kitcher told the man that the Mount Roskill station was "operational", but agreed it was not open to the public.

Kitcher said there were two other stations nearby - in Avondale and Balmoral - with public counters.

Meanwhile, a resident who only wants to be known as Ming, said it took weeks to get a case number after reporting a robbery at his pokie gaming bar in Lynfield.

"I need to keep chasing them," said Ming who only received the case number about three weeks after the initial report.

Ming said the bad communication included 111 operators referring him to the 105 non-emergency number, where he was referred back to 111.

Another resident, who spoke with the help of a Chinese translator, told the minister that she was unhappy with how a police officer dealt with an assault she and her husband experienced at their shop.

The woman said her husband was assaulted, and that the offender continued to come back to provoke them.

She said the officer handling the case was inaccurate in their account of events, and didn't help them further.

'Police are stretched' - Minister

Mitchell acknowledged the frustration and that staffing shortages on the frontline were having an impact.

"The reality of it is that the police are stretched, because they're dealing with an extraordinary high level of violent crime, violent retail crime," he said.

Police Minister Mark Mitchell said police were doing their best. Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia

He added that the increase in mental health and family harm related callouts were putting further pressures on staffing.

Mitchell promised action with laws targeting young serious offenders and more powers for Oranga Tamariki and police to hold them to account.

He also pointed to the government's latest move in setting up a new national gang unit.

But others who attended the meeting, like Mt Eden man Hadley Taylor were worried that the current anti-gang focus was pulling police resources away from important issues such as family and sexual violence.

Taylor said he wanted to see something done about the causes of crime.

"I'd love to see some kind of acknowledgement of how crime occurs, or where crime comes from, because without any understanding of that it's just punitive measures that have no evidence in having any effect on reducing crime," he said


Mt Roskill MP Carlos Cheung Photo: RNZ / Lucy Xia

The meeting was organised by Mt Roskill MP Carlos Cheung who was seeking more conversations between the police and his community.

"My goal for this term is, at least I need to make sure the parents actually feel safe for their kids to walk from the bus stop back home...I need to make sure my constituents actually feel safe walking on the street," he said.

This story was originally published by RNZ