Early interventionby To Defuse Violence
MEDIA RELEASE - ALCOHOL ADVISORY COUNCIL
4 April 2008
Early intervention by Hamilton’s Maori Wardens shown to defuse potentially violent incidents
A programme using Maori Wardens to intervene in the early stages of alcohol fuelled disturbances in Hamilton City has found they neutralise 78 percent of the incidents they attend, before the incidents get out of control.
The result was revealed to the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) conference in Rotorua today by one of the project’s designers, ACC Injury Prevention Consultant Ted Breach.
Mr Breach told the conference delegates that the four month programme, which he believed was a first, set out last year to reduce crime and injury resulting from hazardous Friday and Saturday night drinking.
“The worst time is from about 11:30 on Saturday night to about 4 on Sunday morning. Research tells us that young Maori men are among the groups most likely to be involved in hazardous drinking; that’s why we decided to employ Maori Wardens in the pilot,” Mr Breach told the conference.
Mr Breach said six Maori Wardens were upskilled by the police in controlling crowds and how to use police radios. They were also taught about health and safety and liquor licensing laws. “Equipped with new skills and new knowledge, they went out in cars supplied by police iwi liaison, investigating and dealing with minor incidents or gatherings of youths.
“It wasn’t a matter of just having another six pairs of eyes on the street. The wardens are respected by both Maori and non-Maori and have a very ‘user friendly’ appeal in the community. This placed them in a good position to defuse situations before they got out of control,” Mr Breach told the conference.
The “Rapid Response Team” as the Maori Wardens force was known, followed up tips from the public as well as calls from police communications staff who were able to contact them directly to investigate various incidents.
“It was important to ACC that we quantify the value of the Rapid Response Team. We analysed the incidents they went to and found they pacified 78 percent of them – that is valuable work to ACC because it’s intervention in potential injuries that we don’t have to pay out for.”
The pilot now finished, ACC is looking for partners to continue funding the wardens’ work. “ACC is continuing to fund some of the team’s work, and the police are still providing some resources, but it goes only so far and the wardens are having now to meet many of their own expenses.
“They do such a great job, they are worthy of support of other Hamilton businesses.”