Dunedin police to use eye in the sky

Those enjoying Rugby World Cup games in Dunedin should keep an eye on the sky for the long arm of law.

Police have hired a fixed-wing plane for at least the first cup game in Dunedin, so they can spot key pedestrian and traffic congestion points around the city before and after the match.

If a problem is identified, police officers on the ground will be dispatched to sort it out.

A spokeswoman said it was a Dunedin police initiative, and was not necessarily happening in other host cities.

Dunedin police would use the plane for the first game to see how effective it was, before hiring it for the rest of the games, she said.

The plane was one of a combination of extra police initiatives planned for the tournament period.

As well as extra police being rostered on duty in Dunedin for up to 48 hours before the city's games, additional officers would be working on the days and evenings of the matches. On match days, there will be extra city bar visits, ensuring the liquor ban is being complied with, on traffic control and check points.

Dunedin-Clutha police area commander Inspector Dave Campbell said Dunedin police had been planning progressively over the past year.

The planning was along similar lines to what they had previously done for other large rugby tests.

However, in this case, far more foreign visitors were expected in the city, so extra measures were required.

Extra staff would be brought in from Oamaru and Balclutha to assist, but the bulk of policing over the RWC period would be done by Dunedin city staff.

Community patrols and Maori wardens would also work with police on game days and police staff would also work "hand in hand" with security staff.

Policing with a friendly and professional manner was the key approach over the RWC period, Insp Campbell said.

"The aim is that people enjoy themselves in a safe environment."

Behaviour affecting people's safety or involving people or items on the pitch, or game disruption, would be dealt with swiftly, he said.

In addition to a forward command base at the game, police would have an additional district operations base established at Dunedin Central Police Station, which would provide a further level of oversight of the match and associated policing operations, and be linked to Police National HQ.

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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