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Cost Of Cost Anti-Social Behaviour Rising

8 April 2002

Cost Of Vandalism And Other Anti-Social Behaviour Rising

Manukau City Council is facing increasing costs due to vandalism, graffiti and other damage to council property, and the cost of vandalism and deliberate damage in parks has doubled in the past two years.

The damage bill for repairing physical damage to council buildings for the year to July is expected to be approximately $85,000. This is 10% more than was budgeted for.

Graffiti is a widespread blight and removing tagging from Council property in the nine months to March cost $168,000. For the whole year to June the amount set aside is $236,000. In addition, approximately $63,000 will be spent this year on paintouts by volunteers.

Repairing damage to parks and playgrounds this financial year will cost $100,000. Vandals rip up plants and tree supports, smash barbecues and picnic tables and damage turf. Damage caused by cars is increasingly common. Some of the palm trees planted down the middle of Te Irirangi Drive have been deliberately run over.

Entire playgrounds have been ruined to the point where they have been abandoned, and a walkbridge in Otara was destroyed when it was set on fire.

The costs listed above do not include the time spent by council staff dealing with the results of vandalism and trying to minimise it. Other costs include one-offs such as the building of a replacement toilet block at Howick Domain. The original was destroyed by arson. Replacing it would cost $80,000 - $300,000, depending on the final design.

Toilets are easily the number one target. More than half the attacks are on toilets or toilet blocks. Vandalism to recreation centres and other community buildings, parks and reserves and houses on reserves makes up the bulk of the remainder. Vandals set fire to plastic cisterns and seats in toilets, break windows and rip basins off walls, bore holes in cubicle walls, throw excrement around and generally can smash anything not held down.

It is believed that most of the damage is being done by young people, including pre-teens, but the damage is not confined to one part of Manukau and is equally distributed from Howick and Pakuranga to Manurewa.

"This behaviour is disgusting and mindless," City Manager Colin Dale says. "The council is having to design new toilet blocks to make them as vandal-proof as possible. That means using solid materials especially stainless steel, and pre-cast concrete instead of concrete blocks which larrikins can smash. These materials are not cheap and as a result the price of constructing new toilet blocks is rising.

"Even roads are being damaged. Boy racers are damaging roads by doing wheelies and pouring diesel on surfaces to do burnouts.

"Not only is this destruction a waste of ratepayers' money but it's extremely frustrating for the council staff who have to deal with it on a daily basis.

"What is astonishing is that these vandals are dirtying their own nest. They are destroying facilities put there for their own use, as well as for the rest of the community. There is nothing to steal in a toilet block nor anything to gain by damaging it but nothing seems to be off-limits," Mr Dale says.

"The problem is not confined to Manukau, of course. All other cities in greater Auckland are facing the same problem. Part of the cause is the defiant rebelliousness of youth but there is clearly something wrong with the values many youngsters are being brought up with. They don’t have any respect for other people or public property."

Ends

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