The increasing number of ram raids in Waipā and New Zealand, in general, is deeply troubling. Many of you have raised your concerns about the impact it’s having on our community, particularly for our local retailers, some of whom have been targeted multiple times.
I’m really keen to help out our local retailers to make sure we’re doing everything we can to prevent ram raids from happening now and in the future.
There are a number of things that we can do in collaboration with the Police and community groups. But we need to be realistic here and acknowledge that addressing the precursors to crime is largely outside Council’s control, and typically involves the Police working with iwi, government organisations, and non-government organisations.
Central government recently claimed to offer financial assistance to businesses targeted by these criminals. But after looking at the very narrow criteria and eligibility for funding, of the 400 eligible businesses around the country, none are in Waipā. This is extremely frustrating and disappointing.
Central government’s funding scheme is aimed at micro-businesses – those with no ability to self-invest in prevention, for example, the small owner-operators dairy. The business must have been a victim of a ram raid, and have premises that are likely to attract repeat offending.
With that said, there are measures we can undertake in Waipā to deter these things from happening, for example, advising retailers on how and if bollard installation is possible for them.
For aesthetic purposes, bollards should be uniform throughout the CBDs, and Council has an important role to play in enabling and facilitating this. I understand a ram raid group set up in Te Awamutu is working with Council staff to get clarity around this sort of stuff, and Waipā District Council needs to be clear and responsive to these requests.
Other shorter-term measures include well-placed and accurate CCTV cameras throughout our towns and the main feeder roads into them that have the effect of “ring-fencing” the district. In particular, the installation of ANPR , which not only assist the Police in their investigations but can provide units with advanced warning, is a vital development in crime prevention.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with ANPR, they are Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras that are able to reference back to an online database alerting the Police to sought-after vehicles passing through the area.
We are expecting a report to our Service Delivery Committee next week where staff will be looking for funding and an endorsement of Waipā’s priority list for camera placement, as agreed recently by the CCTV Advisory Group Council – watch this space.
The final and longer-term solution is one of urban design to prevent crime and increase safety.
The theory of Criminal Prevention through environmental design should be considered by our town planners from the outset. Examples include:
- Designing and installing barriers that prevent vehicles from even getting onto our footpaths.
- Installing things like concrete bench seats, raised planter beds and street art.
In places like Christchurch, these initiatives have been incorporated into the design of the CBD, and have successfully deterred criminal activities.
We need to look at other examples where clever and thoughtful design has separated vehicles from foot traffic, such as The Base in Hamilton.
In the more immediate term, we need to look at retrospectively fitting these measures in our towns. Although this will not be without its challenges, I believe it could really offer longer-term increased safety. An analysis of what, how and where these could be installed (and funded) is an important step and needs to be commenced as soon as possible.