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Region's Parks Part Of National Research Programme

Auckland Regional Council Media Release
4 May 2005

Region's parks part of national research programme

The Auckland Regional Council is working with the Department of Conservation (DOC) on research into vehicle security in and around regional parks throughout the Auckland region as part of a national research programme. The programme involves scoping the prevalence of car crime, especially break-ins, in and around parks and reserves throughout New Zealand, consideration of the impact of such crime on visitors, and what measures are appropriate to address these problems.

The programme, led by DOC and funded by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, will build on a considerable amount of work the ARC has already done to scope and address safety and security issues in and around Auckland's regional parks.

Chair of the ARC's Parks and Heritage Committee, Sandra Coney, says that while the problem is not wide-spread, the ARC regularly looks at ways to improve the overall experience for those visiting and enjoying regional parks. "Spending time at the beach, or in the bush, can be totally marred when you return to your car to find it has been broken into. We already have security cameras at a few parks where break-ins have been more prevalent, but we don't want to rush out and start putting cameras or big signs up every where, as these can have more of a negative impact on the overall park experience."

Cr Coney says that the initial programme looking at Auckland's regional park network is the start of a national programme undertaken by DOC.

"The proximity of Auckland's regional parks to the urban area makes the parks network an ideal pilot. Logistics around access aren't a concern. We have high visitor numbers which make it easier to monitor the impact on people, and the ARC has already begun implementing various initiatives."

DOC Researcher, Gordon Cessford, says that DOC, like the ARC, is concerned about the safety of visitors to the parks it manages, and about the quality of the recreation experiences that people have at them.

"We've heard stories from many New Zealanders and overseas visitors which suggest that whether they are directly affected or not, concerns about potential car break-ins prevent many people from enjoying parks as much as they would like. Overseas visitors seem quite surprised that we have such issues here, and sometimes don't take the same precautions that locals do.

"We know that there are a lot of different initiatives going on across the country to address this issue and reduce any problems. We plan to explore these in more detail and bring the most successful together as best practice recommendations for all park managers. The ARC has done a lot of work here and they will be one of our key partners as we progress the programme."

DOC is currently completing initial research for the two-year programme, which officially kicks off in July, and will include an analysis of break-in incident records, public surveys of awareness and behaviour, exploration of various solutions being currently tried with many groups involved, and an evaluation of trials of some of the more promising prevention options. Other agencies involved include the NZ Police, Ministry of Justice Crime Prevention Unit, NZ Tourism Industry Association, Local Government New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand, and tour operators, recreation operators and community groups nationwide. All these groups will work together to use the recommendations and guidelines from this work to reduce the overall problem.


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