ADVOCATE COLUMN 6th WEEK SEPTEMBER 2018
It was great to hear recently in the news that Northland had received a share of the latest increase in police recruits. Obviously policing in Northland – like anywhere in New Zealand – is no easy task and the better resourced both in equipment and personnel our police service is, then the better service they can provide to our communities. Why this is important is pretty obvious really, we want to trust there is a level of capacity within all sectors of our community that is fit for purpose and in this case, sufficient to provide a service that ensures that within reason people and property are protected.
This sense of safety, like business confidence and so many other things in life is as much about perception as reality. When we go about our daily – and nightly -activities – we want to feel safe. We want to feel like we can walk through our towns without feeling uncomfortable or threatened, drive our roads safely and know our personal property is secure. Part of fulfilling a perception of safety is obviously a visible presence of police in our community underpinned by a belief that they are sufficiently well resourced to do what they need to do.
This should go beyond fleetingly passing a patrol car on the open road. It is about a visible presence in places people congregate both for commercial and recreational activities. In the case of the CBD, which is arguably the city’s most high profile and visible public realm, its about creating both a reality and a perception that this is a safe and welcoming place to be. This perception matters because if local people perceive the heart of their city to be an unwelcoming place how will outsiders perceive it. CitySafe has done some really good work in recent years to improve the reality of public safety in the area but perception is harder to shift.
To be a vibrant region and district, served by an attractive and liveable city requires an outside perception that is positive and encourages local businesses to have the confidence to continue to invest and operate here and to encourage those other businesses one would expect to operate here to have the confidence that investing here is going to be better than choosing other locations in New Zealand. Afterall, brand, reputation and confidence are all going to be underpinned by perception and if a more visible police presence enhances that, then the better resourced our regions police are the better.