North Waikato News, Waikato by Caitlin Wallace 26 Apr 2017
Troubled youth committing crime in Huntly was highlighted as one of the major issues during a public meeting about policing.
Around 30 residents attended the event, hosted by Labour police spokesperson Stuart Nash, on Friday afternoon, Nash’s presentation was based on police in rural communities being under-resourced and a need for putting police back into communities.
“These are the men and women who know what needs to be done but they say they can’t deliver what is required,” he said.
Nash said one of the reasons for the meetings was to determine the needs of communities.
“I think what we’ve got to do, and this is part of the process, you’ve got to send a clear message of expectations as a community.
“We need to keep having these conversations.”
During the hour-long meeting, he said in 2015 there were 420 burglaries in Huntly and less than 10 per cent of those were solved.
“We need to get back to a situation where officers say every car that’s broken into is serious.”
Most residents who spoke up said a lot of issues in the town were caused by youth.
The consensus was that more police were needed but community member Hine Timothy said Huntly needed officers to stay in the town long-term.
Nash said he agreed saying it was “ridiculous” and said the answer was determining the suitability of police during placements.
“The longer a community police officer is in a town, the more connected he or she is with the community.”
Other residents who spoke brought up points of police safety, prioritisation of crime and the difficulty of reporting crime.
He said there had been a slow withdrawal of police in the community which has become part of the issue.
And its caused a disconnection between residents and police, he said.
“You remove those community kiosks, or that community presence, and people stop phoning in.”
After visiting other regions, he said other areas are experiencing similar issues.