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Frustrated Aucklanders tell police minister of assaults and abuse in central city

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04 June 2024, 8:02 PM

Frustrated Aucklanders tell police minister of assaults and abuse in central cityPolice Minister Mark Mitchell addressed frustrated residents and business owners in Auckland's CBD. Photo: Melanie Earley/RNZ

Frustrated residents and business owners in central Auckland have told Police Minister Mark Mitchell they don't feel safe and want to see more police officers on the streets immediately.

More than 100 locals in attended a public meeting with Mitchell at Ellen Melville Centre on Tuesday night.

Many spoke of wanting to see a police station return to the central city, and raised concerns about the slow response from police as well as the rise in antisocial behaviour on Queen Street.

Mitchell told the crowd there had been a 58 percent increase in foot patrols around the city in the last six months.

But one resident stood up and claimed that was "bollocks".

"I can count on one hand the number of police I've seen on the beat in the last three years in the central city," the man said and was met with a round of applause from the crowd.

He said last week he had to hold someone down who had stolen alcohol from an inner city supermarket until police arrived and that same day he said he dislocated his shoulder trying to chase a person who had stolen items from another store he was in.

"It's not safe and I want to see cops rotating up and down the streets all day," the man said.

Queens Arcade property manager Ian Wright told Mitchell he had dealt with "hundreds" of incidents in the CBD including attacks and intimidation.

"Today there was a teenager who came in and she attacked some shoppers who she didn't even know. Last week we had a sex offender lock himself in one of the stores with some girls.

"I've been assaulted, abused and intimidated, it's a daily occurrence here."

The crowd at a public meeting with Police Minister Mark Mitchell on Tuesday night. Photo: Melanie Earley/RNZ

The central city needed to be a welcoming place for visitors, Westmere resident Gael Baldock said.

She said as a woman she felt unsafe taking public transport.

"I don't feel as safe as I used to - I had a friend who was attacked recently on Wellesley St by a man she didn't know who hit her in the face."

Baldock did note she had seen more police officers on the street in Point Chevalier and on Karangahape Rd recently, but less so on Queen St.

"I've seen the community patrol out there but not that many police, more would be good and I think taking away the central station was a major problem."

Community Patrols NZ chair Chris Lawson said it was tough out there for officers and residents.

He lived and did regular patrols in the CBD and had spent 20 years working as a police officer.

"I've seen people peeing and pooing in the streets, fighting, stealing and I am concerned about crime. There's a fair amount of it happening lately and people are concerned for their safety which is why so many people are here."

Lawson said the Community Patrol was looking for more volunteers.

"It was a tough decision to start a patrol in the CBD because we're a risk averse group, but we're getting out there and doing what we can.

Patrol members were trained not to be involved in conflict, Lawson said.

Mitchell couldn't tell residents if or when a new police station would be built in the city, but said until that time increased foot patrols would continue.

"I think a physical presence of officers on the beat is more important."