Upper Hutts petition against a police merger with Lower Hutt police has gained more than 6000 signatures.
Organisers hope to take it to Parliament later this month but a further push for more signatures is under way this week and more petition forms will be taken around the CBD this week.
People are very angry that police district commander Superintendent Pieri Munro did not attend last weeks meetings (see below), and unfortunately this I believe has lite the fire for more anger over this proposal.
Local MP Chris Hipkins has ben an advocate of the petition by collecting signatures around Upper Hutt
“One of the messages I will be giving the minister that came through very strongly is local people’s expectations that focus on frontline policing. Any review that would take senior police out of the Hutt Valley seems to be going in the wrong direction. The minister has an obligation to make sure this does not happen. That seems to be totally at odds with the government’s stated commitment to frontline policing services”
The petition can be signed at Upper Hutt City Council, Library, McArthurs Real Estate, Chris Hipkins electorate office, Upper Hutt Leader.
Below is the link to the website, and an opportunity to download a petition there as well
Last week two public meetings were undertaken by the Police in Lower and Upper Hutt.
Police have advertised these meeetings as a chance for locals to put their views to the police on what works with local policing and what doesn’t. Project Awakairangi is a police review of services they provide, the project is about which local services would the public like to see, or retain, the most and which could they do without.
The police have had terms of reference for this project available. The underlying principles behind the project are below
“A project team has been established with Terms of Reference to explore enhanced safety and police service delivery opportunities in the Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt police area commands.
Superintendent Pieri Munro, Wellington Police District Commander, has asked for a report with findings and recommendations by 30 June 2009.
The project is called Awakairangi – the Maori name of the Hutt River formed by tributaries from the surrounding ranges and their combined flow through Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt, joining with Wellington Harbour at Petone.
Superintendent Munro acknowledged news of the project had raised some concern amongst police staff and the public. He hopes the public discussion paper including Terms of Reference will help provide understanding and reassurance for staff, and the Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt communities.
He reassured people that no police stations or community policing centres will close; that face to face service delivery to the public will not be diminished and that the purpose is to enhance safety of the public and police.
“Seeking the views of police staff and key partner agencies including local councils will be an important part of the project team’s focus,” Superintendent Munro said. “This includes opportunities for face to face meetings and other communication and feedback tools including web based technology.””
I attended the meeting in Upper Hutt which had roughly about 80 people turn up at the Hapai Club in Fergusson Drive last Thursday (A summary of the Lower Hutt meeting is here).
In general terms most of the Upper Hutt residents feel that this project is about merging of police services under one district with Lower Hutt being the principal station, Upper Hutt being reduced to a satellite station.
There has been strong opposition to this project in Upper Hutt with a petition doing the rounds and an active website www.nopolicecuts.co.nz citing rational reasons for the possible outcome of this project not to proceed. Even the local Upper Hutt Mayor was upset over the scheduling on this meeting, as it clashed with a well advertised Community Planning meeting.
Having attended the meeting I walked away with no clearer picture of what the Police are intending to do with this Project, equally that was probably not their goal. Most certainly I can attest that they should have got the message that people within Upper Hutt are not happy with any reduced police staff numbers in their community.
While I understand the need for mangement reviews, they are usually ongoing and generally do not require public input to reach a conclusion. I have no doubt that be guaging public opinion from these meetings, a requirement has been satisfied (community involvement) and as such will be used as a precussor to a major operational change in policing in the Hutt Valley.
I will wait the outcome of the report from Mr Munro, I hope the findings will be made public, not lost in obsecurity but again I have my doubts as other Police reports have shown .
If anything the Police representatives should have come away with is that the community expects transperancy from the Police as to its goals and operational dealings especially as they directly relate to the community it serves.
Just front up and tell concerned citizens why the project was implemented in the first plce and what are the goals?