Esk Valley local calls for policing to be a priority in disasters

Fri, Mar 24

An Esk Valley community meeting on Sunday will see political parties share what they'd do to protect communities from crime in future disasters.

A community leader in the Esk Valley, Lousie Parsons, said on Breakfast that they're feeling a lot better because "we’ve seen the police, they’ve been out there, they’re visible".

However, she's expecting a wider political response, including the future prioritisation of mitigating crime in disaster-hit areas as number two, after immediate rescue, and deploying the army to bolster police presence.

"When you're sitting in a really vulnerable spot, you don't want — I like to call them bottom-feeders — coming into your community and taking stuff and scaring people, it's just not what you need at that time."

Since their last meeting, an additional 145 officers were deployed to reassure the hard-hit community.

"I spoke with police yesterday, crime's gone down to pre-cyclone apparently," Parsons said.

She believes they should have seen more police visibility "right from day one," but said "the police have been amazing, they can only do as much as they’re allowed to do".

However, the new police minister, Ginny Anderson, said the information she's received indicated there was not a spike in crime in the Esk Valley.

She said it would not be appropriate for her to attend the meeting this weekend due to it's political nature, but said Stuart Nash, former police minister and MP for Napier, would be there.

Parsons said "there have been a lot of miscommunications, but not from us" on the true level of crime in the area.

"There was definitely crime," she said. "We know that there were guns. [Police Commissioner] Andrew Coster admitted that there was."


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