More criminals moved to Merivale

More serious offenders will be housed at a rehabilitation centre, the Salisbury Street Foundation...
More serious offenders will be housed at a rehabilitation centre, the Salisbury Street Foundation, in Merivale following a new agreement being signed with the Department of Corrections. PHOTO: Geoff Sloan
More people who have committed serious crimes will be housed in one of Christchurch’s most affluent suburbs.

The number of people who will be housed at rehabilitation organisation, Salisbury Street Foundation, in Merivale will increase from 15 to 21.

It comes as schools in the area have been warned a convicted child sex offender, who was recently released from prison, is being managed in the suburb.

Said Department of Corrections operations director southern region Chris O’Brien-Smith: “In August 2019, we signed a new consolidated agreement with the foundation to improve outcomes for up to 21 offenders.”

The agreement also means the foundation is now financially compensated for the entire service being delivered by Corrections.

Last week St Margaret’s College sent an email to parents alerting them about the child sex offender living in the area following a meeting with Corrections and the Ministry of Education.

“We have been assured this person has good oversight from Corrections and other agencies. The purpose of this letter is to share this information with you,” it said.

St Margaret’s College principal Diana Patchett said there are always concerns around this type of thing when children are involved.

“We have had one parent get in touch. However, we have to trust that Corrections have the appropriate procedures in place to ensure there is no impact on the local community,” she said.

St Albans School principal Ginnie Warren said the school hadn’t been alerted that a child sex offender was living in the community or of the expansion of the Salisbury Street Foundation.

“We are always putting out messages about safe travel to and from school, as well as ensuring families have a safety plan, that’s something we just do rigorously with this changing world,” she said.

St Andrew’s College rector Christine Leighton said the school is not aware of the convicted child sex offender or the increase in offenders being held at the foundation.

“This is not something we’re aware of, but as always we will remain vigilant for our students’ safety.”

The foundation has been operating from the same St Albans St property for 38 years. It also acted as a landlord for people living in a nearby property it rented since January last year. Mr O’Brien-Smith said this property, which was previously rented by the foundation, has since been purchased by them.

The number of offenders living at the site varies. In July there was 15 and currently there is nine.

Said Merivale Precinct Society chairman Chris Aynsley: “I’m not going to get into the ‘not in my neighbourhood’ argument, because that transfers the issue into another neighbourhood. And why not ours? Or why ours? Who knows? It is what it is. It’s well-

run, it’s well-managed and it has the full support of the justice system.”

He said he could only speculate on what questions Merivale residents might have.

“What is the activity? Is it consented, what assurance is there for the safety of the people in the neighbourhood, what do we need to know to feel comfortable that this is a safe neighbourhood. That’s what I think the residents would want to know,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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