7 May 2016

Auckland businesses call for safer CBD focus

2:54 pm on 7 May 2016

Auckland needs to focus on crime prevention if it wants to keep its safe reputation, the city's central business association says.

Auckland CBD from Mt Eden

Central Auckland areas have been rated some of the worst in the country for violent crime. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

New data from Statistics New Zealand shows an average of three people are assaulted, sexually assaulted or robbed per day in public areas of Auckland's CBD.

More than 24,000 reports of crimes in public areas have been analysed to find New Zealand's most crime-ridden spots.

The western area of central Auckland had the highest number of public assaults, robberies and sexual assaults in the country, with 550 last year.

These were followed by central Wellington between Willis Street and Cambridge Terrace, with central Hamilton in third.

The waterfront and eastern part of Auckland's CBD also fell into the top ten highest crime areas.

Just last month Waitemata and Gulf ward councillor Mike Lee [

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/300475/auckland-unsafe,-councillor-tells-police

said the city was unsafe after a number of violent attacks] on international students in the area.

Viv Beck, chief executive of Heart of the City - Auckland's city centre business association - said she did not want statistics like this to give the city a bad reputation.

"People are concerned when they see statistics like this and certainly the focus continues to be, needs to be, on prevention. Strong security, police presence and other initiatives that can actually try and ensure that that reputation of a safe city continues."

"Auckland is New Zealand's largest city and it's growing, more and more people are coming here and while that's got a lot of positive benefits unfortunately these figures reflect a growing city."

She said it was still a place where people could come and feel safe compared to other places in the world but people wanted to ensure they could enjoy the environment.

It was important to focus on how to prevent crime with police resources and security measures, Ms Beck said.

"We have got some great businesses in central Auckland, they're offering world-class services and we need to make sure that the perception of the streets is safe.

"From our perspective it would be good to see that continue, and be a focus for police as well as other initiatives like security guards that makes a difference.

An Auckland CBD resident for 32 years, Tim Coffey, said safety was something people had to be aware of in the area.

"I think in Auckland you have to be very street smart if you're going to walk around.

"Fortunately I'm quite tall, I'm about 1.94 metres, and it's been quite a while since I've been assaulted or chased - but I have been.

"We have two negative forces in the CBD. One is alcohol and its availability and that's where you get all the brawls that you've seen on TV.

"They're not street people but people going out to party. And then you've got the issues of homelessness and depravation."

Mr Coffey said it was part of a growing gap between the rich and poor.

"People very young leaving school early, no encouragement to get on by their family or anyone else really and they end up footloose and fancy free to fall to dubious ends, let's put it that way.

"If you've got a late-model German car and you can go over the bridge everynight to your home or perhaps out east to Remuera like that, you're completely detached from all this.

"If you live in a place like that you'll be able to afford the private security, or collectively [at a level] that street-level life here in Auckland is not really offering.

"It's got nothing to do with absense of police, it's got everything to do with social disintigration."

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