MP to deliver petition on 24/7 policing

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker will deliver his 24/7 Balclutha policing petition to Parliament...
Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker will deliver his 24/7 Balclutha policing petition to Parliament tomorrow. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
A southern MP says the Government needs to listen to demands for increased police cover in his constituency, as he prepares to deliver a 1700-strong petition to Parliament, tomorrow.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker began the petition - which calls for 24/7 policing at Balclutha station - seven weeks ago, and will take it to Wellington

tomorrow, to be allocated to the Justice Select Committee, and put before Police Minister Stuart Nash for consideration.

Mr Walker said the large number of signatories - Clutha has a population of about 17,000, Balclutha 4000 - was an indication of how strongly South Otago people felt on the issue.

"Hopefully, the minister takes the safety and security concerns of local people seriously enough to reinstate 24/7 policing at Balclutha, as was clearly laid out by the previous government.

"It's a policy that has huge support from the district."

In April, Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan backed Mr Walker's appeal, telling the Otago Daily Times additional police cover was needed to combat "unprecedented gang activity in the South and the growing scourge of methamphetamine".

He claimed the lives of Clutha police were being adversely affected by responding to hundreds of call-outs each year during unrostered hours.

"It's absolutely ridiculous, because every time they get called out unrostered, they have a nine-hour stand-down.

"Their families and social lives are all getting thrown out."

Mr Nash said he understood the Clutha community felt strongly on the issue.

Balclutha had already received an extra constable as part of the Government's planned roll-out of 1800 additional officers nationwide, but there were no plans to begin 24/7 cover.

"I have discussed it with the Commissioner of Police and his team. I trust the district commander, Superintendent Paul Basham, to make the best decisions about deployment of his officers and resources on a daily basis. Balclutha, like the rest of the country, has 24/7 policing for any emergency."

Five further officers would be deployed to the Southern District soon, although to which stations was unspecified.

"I strongly believe it's more effective to have officers out and about in the community than stuck behind a desk in the office at 3am," Mr Nash said.

Mr Walker maintained rostered, 24/7 policing was the only effective solution.

"People are rightfully concerned. They deserve to feel safe."

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