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14 March 2017
Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest says New Zealand police should stop “relying on statistics” and simply admit Waikato police hubs are failing smaller towns.
Mylchreest is exasperated that repeated calls from the Cambridge community for a return to 24-hour policing in the town are falling on deaf ears. He has again backed calls from Cambridge leaders who this week demanded a return to 24/7 policing in the town. Currently Cambridge is serviced from a police hub based out of Te Awamutu, despite a rapidly growing population and a dramatic increase in serious crime.
“For goodness sake, our council raised this issue formally with the New Zealand Police back in August last year. When we didn’t get answers then, we wrote to the Minister of Police in October,“ he said.
“Finally, after an OIA request, we got a response back in January which was frankly, pretty hopeless and didn’t address any of the issues we raised.”
“Since then, what’s changed? Nothing – absolutely nothing. Meanwhile, we’ve got ram-raiders having a field-day in Cambridge and Te Awamutu and in fact, across the country.”
Mylchreest said his community did not accept that Waikato police hubs, which service rural towns from one central police station, were working.
“I don’t care how efficient this so-called hub system is. It is simply not delivering the kind of service our community wants, certainly not in Cambridge and not in Te Awamutu or our other towns either,” he said.
“People want to feel safe and secure and know that if the police are needed, they’ll be there. The constant feedback I’m getting is that people and business owners are feeling very vulnerable. People have told me they have simply given up trying to call the police to report anything because nine times out of ten police advise they’re unable to respond fast enough, or at all.”
He said he believed that as a result, local crime statistics were simply under-reported. This concern had been raised with the Minister of Police but it “disappeared into the ether”, he said.
“So I’m sorry, but I don’t have any faith at all in claims that the model of police hubs is working and delivering a better community service. And I feel sorry for police on the ground who are doing their very best but are being forced to work within a fundamentally flawed system – and they know it.”
Mylchreest said this wasn’t just a Waipa issue, but was something the whole country needed to be concerned about.
“My community has been incredibly patient but enough is enough. The whole model of hubs is fundamentally wrong and needs a serious rethink.”
Media enquiries, contact Jeanette Tyrrell (on behalf of Council) 027 5077 599