Southern police step up foot patrols

Constable Ben West (left) and Constable Jo Ammundsen walk along George St yesterday afternoon. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Constable Ben West (left) and Constable Jo Ammundsen walk along George St yesterday afternoon. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Southern district police officers are on the beat, after recording the largest increase in foot patrols in the country.

Figures released by Police Minister Anne Tolley show there were 6543 police foot patrols recorded in Otago and Southland last year.

That represented a 388% increase when compared to the 1341 foot patrols in 2011.

Superintendent Andrew Coster said Southern police had placed ''an increasing emphasis on high-visibility foot patrols in our regular daily taskings''.

Foot patrols were also part of regular operations such as the recent Safer Summer campaign in Invercargill and at holiday destinations in Queenstown and Wanaka around the busy Christmas-New Year period, he said.

''High visibility policing is important for reassuring the community that we are doing our best to ensure that people are safe and feel safe.

''We often hear from members of the public that they appreciate seeing our staff out on the beat.''

Supt Coster said foot patrols were not a public relations exercise, with the public often taking the opportunity to raise concerns with the officers.

''Walking the beat is part of the job for almost all of our staff. Many of our staff enjoy the opportunity to engage with people.''

Nationwide the number of foot patrols had increase 155%.

The next highest increase after the Southern district was Wellington, with 241%, followed by Bay of Plenty (227%).

Of the 12 police districts, the Southern district had the lowest number of foot patrols in 2001, but by 2013 had claimed eighth spot.

Mrs Tolley welcomed the increase in foot patrols, saying ''officers are much more effective out in communities rather than waiting in stations to react to crime''.

Front-line officers were now equipped with smartphones and tablets, which had freed an extra 30 minutes per shift, allowing officers to spend more time in their communities, she said.


The numbers: Southern District foot patrols
2011: 1341
2012: 4281
2013: 6543

Increase (2011-13): 388%


- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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