News, Events and Culture

Ministry of Justice pulls plug on funding crime prevention in city

Wednesday May 6 2015

Since the SAB was established, more than a decade ago, there has been a 24% reduction in reported crime in Palmerston North. The SAB is made up of representatives from 16 various organisations including the Police, Ministry of Justice, ACC, Mana Whenua (Rangitāne Iwi) and PNCC. The Board meets monthly to coordinate safety related matters and identify programmes and initiatives to mitigate crime and improve safety in Palmerston North.

Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith says the SAB is an essential collaborative organisation for our city.

"Crime is primarily a central government responsibility. It seems clear that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is abrogating its responsibilities, expecting local government and other agencies to take up the funding shortfall," says Mayor Smith. "This is wholly unacceptable."

As well as the Ministry of Justice, funding the Safety Advisory Board receives $20,000p.a. from ACC to fund an International Safe City Co-ordinator, and $70,000p.a.from Palmerston North City Council to cover operating costs, including the employment of one staff member. All other members of the SAB contribute their time and resources in kind.

The funding supplied by the Ministry of Justice has led to a number of successful programmes carried out by the SAB and implemented by the Safe City Officer. The decision by the Ministry of Justice means the SAB will no longer have access to funds to implement plans and strategies.

"I'm particularly concerned that the decision by the Ministry of Justice will result in the SAB being disestablished - This Board has operated effectively due to the goodwill and efforts of all concerned.  Despite changing priorities for partner organisations there remains a strong commitment by Board members to the SAB."

Projects the SAB has been involved with include:

  • The Safe City Angel: This project provides young women who are out on the town on weekend nights with a support in a bid to mitigate any alcohol-related harm. The project came about following research that identified this growing problem.
  • CBD Camera Installation and Monitoring: This important crime prevention tool and the organisation of volunteers to monitor the videos.
  • Give Wisely: Campaign aimed at reducing the number of people who give cash to beggars. This project led to a marked reduction in income earned by beggars and led to a reduction in the number of beggars in the Central Business District and reports of intimidation.

Recently, Palmerston North was awarded Safe City Status by the World Health Organisation. Mayor Smith says it was awarded this title because of the large number of Non-Government Organisations and government organisations (both local and central) working to help people.

"One of the key outstanding strengths identified by the World Health Organisation was the Safety Advisory Board - which is unique to our city. Having multiple agencies committed to safety in the city is key to our success in reducing crime. Another reason behind the success of the SAB is that it is chaired by the police and it has an operational focus. The SAB gets things done, it sets our city apart and has enabled us to reduce crime and improve safety."

"It would be a great loss to the city. I am concerned the Ministry of Justice decision will lead to both fragmentation and doubling up of activities by un-coordinated central government organisations."

Mayor Grant Smith says he has written to our local Members of Parliament and appealed to them to work together in the interests of our city to overturn this reckless decision.

For more information contact:

Grant Smith

Mayor of Palmerston North

0274 458 657

C/o Lisa Guthrie

356 8199