Police defend prevention policy

Andrew Coster
Andrew Coster
The Southern district's top policeman has rejected a claim police are not attending smaller crimes as the organisation undergoes major changes.

An anonymous report in a police union magazine alleged police were ignoring ''smaller, hands-on crimes'' as staff focused on prevention.

Superintendent Andrew Coster, who was clearly rankled by the report, told the Otago Daily Times ''that is not accurate''.

Police continued to respond to reported crimes, but a move from ''respond and investigate'' policing to a preventive model was a ''massive change in mindset for staff''.

''Prevention is causing us to consider how we can best utilise the police time available to us.''

He cited an example of an officer spotting a technical breach of a liquor ban by an overseas tourist, and while that person could be arrested he questioned if tying up police resources was appropriate.

The national move to a prevention model - dubbed ''Prevention First'' - was the most substantial change in policing ''potentially in decades'', Supt Coster said.

''That philosophy meant putting prevention at the forefront of policing and victims at the centre, and when we do that we will reduce crime.''

''It has a very positive impact on crime right across the country, and Southern is very much part of that.''

He noted that while victims wanted to receive a good service from police, ''they would much rather not be a victim in the first place''.

''The end result of that is, statistics aside, we want crime to reduce,'' Supt Coster said.

To keep the crime rate coming down it was important the district had a high performance leadership team, he said.

''I am strongly committed to getting the kind of leadership in place that the district needs to succeed.''

''We have new sergeants coming in and part of that is getting the leadership positions filled with the right people, because those leadership positions are critical for communicating to staff ... what we are doing.''

Police were also listening to the community about any concerns, he said.

''I much prefer a community that cares about crime and safety than one that is indifferent.''

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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