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Most feel Auckland CBD safe

October 6, 2005

Most feel Auckland CBD safe

A survey shows Most people feel safe in Auckland's central business district but more needs to be done to raise awareness of police and council safety initiatives in the area, an AUT University study shows.

The report, Perceptions of Public Safety in the Auckland CBD, was commissioned by the Auckland City District Police and will be launched tomorrow by Dr Cathy Casey of AUT's Institute of Public Policy and Professor Charles Crothers of AUT's School of Social Sciences. The researchers studied responses from three population samples * 820 random householders, 209 senior college students and 117 international tertiary students.

The survey found 86.5% of the householders, 76% of the international students and 53% of the domestic students felt safe in downtown Auckland. Reasons people gave for feeling safe included: the large number of people in the CBD the presence of police the fact they had never had a bad experience in the CBD However, many could not specify why they felt safe.

The survey also found people were more concerned about safety at night and were fearful of undesirable people loitering. Dr Casey, a sociologist and Auckland City councillor, says the range of police and council safety initiatives in the CBD could add to people's feelings of safety.

She says more "reassurance policing" and increasing public awareness of these safety initiatives could help create a more positive climate. The study showed men felt safer in the CBD than women and people who visited the area more frequently felt safer than infrequent visitors. Householders and domestic students were more concerned about public order offences, especially drunkenness, while international students were more worried about traffic offences.

Recorded crime in the district has dropped significantly in the past five years, but many respondents felt it had gone up. Dr Casey said this view was perhaps due to media coverage of crime or anecdotal reports of offending. The authors reviewed strategies developed by Auckland City Police and the Auckland City Council to improve CBD safety and made some suggestions about how perceptions of safety could be further improved. These include greater visibility of police and better lighting.

Dr Casey said Auckland City had introduced around 15 safety initiatives as part of its Inner City Safety Strategy, but there was little knowledge of these projects. She says more innovative ways could be found to let visitors know about these, such as signs saying "you are on camera" or "you are entering an alcohol-free zone". The Auckland City District commander, Detective Superintendent Gavin Jones, said while the survey results were heartening, there was no room for the police to rest on their laurels.

"We've worked hard with Auckland City Council, and others, over the years to improve safety in the city and we'll continue to do so. The survey results will help us focus on some specific areas of concern to members of the public and provides us with an opportunity to address some inaccurate perceptions."

Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard said the survey was a useful tool for the council to move forward in developing further safety initiatives in the CBD.

"It's a tribute to both the police and the council that so many people feel safe in the CBD and I think that's a reflection of the many safety initiatives both organisations have put in place. "People may not be aware of these initiatives, but I think that overall feeling of safety stems from things like the alcohol ban, the use of closed circuit television and the use of white lighting."

Mr Hubbard said the report gave the city a good benchmark on perceptions of safety and the council would take a close look at the suggestions. A PDF of the full report is available on these websites:http://www.police.govt.nz/district/aucklandcity/initiatives.php http://www.aut.ac.nz/resources/research/research_institutes/ipp/Perception s_of_Public_Safety_in_CBD.pdf

ENDS


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