Just over a month ago, I sat in the back of the Manukau District Court as the Monday morning lists were read. The local Police had suggested that I saw for myself the aftermath of crime over a weekend.
I left about 30 minutes later in a state of shock. It was not a pretty sight- a steady stream of people filing into the dock on charges related to alcohol, drugs, abuse, theft, assault and robbery.
What can we do as a City? I would say, “A lot.”
Some people have criticised my billboards for claiming that I want “safer communities.”
I believe it is important that Aucklanders can go about their daily activities feeling safe, knowing that their homes, cars and property are secure from theft and vandalism.
But we cannot sit back and hope someone else would do something about it.
The new Auckland Council would have an important role in eliminating the opportunities for criminals to prey on our communities.
As a single Auckland City, we will have a lot of influence with the Police and the Police Minister and we must make the most of this.
Our approach has to be multi-dimensional. It would not be enough to put more Police on the streets and build more prisons.
We need a strong partnership with the Council, Mayor, Police and the Police Minister.
As a former Police Minister, I am confident of delivering on my promise.
As I had stated in Indian Newslink earlier (August 1, 2010), I support “One City, One Force” concept, with a regional focus for the Police, and a new command structure that would reflect our new city. Criminals do not recognise our current artificial boundaries and hence at times can get in the way of policing. Why should we do so? I will be an advocate for this change.
We need more investment in CCTV technology and safe urban design for main streets.
Planning by Council will eliminate places for delinquents to gather and get up to no good.
We need strong leadership, someone to make the tough decisions and not back down when something goes wrong.
I will crackdown on the proliferation of cheap liquor outlets, especially in South Auckland. Communities like those who marched in Manukau City against liquor outlets, have to be involved in this exercise.
The new Council will be integral in the effort against drugs. By removing illegal structures and enforcing maximum fence heights, we will assist the Police and send the gangs a strong message that they are not welcome.
I will not stand by violence in taxis and small businesses such as dairies and liquor stores and I will not allow this type of anti-social behaviour to go unchallenged.
As a single City, we will have more influence with lawmakers than we have now.
We must also focus on prevention. If the Council invested in all-weather sporting facilities, we may keep youths off the streets. Many mischievous youngsters complain that they have nothing else to do.
John Banks is Auckland City Mayor and a candidate for the upcoming Mayoral election for Auckland Super City.