August 2020 Update

Last Friday night (4th August 2020), a very informative and constructive meeting in the Whitianga Town Hall. Why Friday night? Our Town Hall is so busy these days that Friday was the only night available. Senior Sergeant Rupert Friend was a little concerned that they would not get a decent crowd to the meeting, but in the end, an estimated 80-100 people turned out.

Senior Sergeant Friend, along with his two colleagues Tina and Peter, gave an overview of the “business” and how the police work in the districts. In summary, we have crime statistics that compare extremely well (in a good way, of course) to those experienced in the rest of the country.

A map displayed on the wall with stickers showing crimes committed could clearly be identified as Whitianga. According to Rupert Friend, that is a very rare occurrence. In most other parts of the country, there are so many stickers on the map that it’s not possible to identify what town you’re looking at.

The main take-outs from the meeting came from a couple of highly relevant questions posed after the formal presentation was over.

First and foremost on the minds of most of our residents: how do we deal with the ongoing problem of meth dealers, P-houses and labs in our towns? The frustrating thing for many people is that the location of these places is common knowledge amongst the locals, and the identities of the people running them are also widely known.

Sergeant Friend laid out the process that the police need to follow to get a search warrant to go into these places, find the evidence they need, shut them down and prosecute the dealers and cooks. They need three independent witnesses who can provide information to the police, which they can then take to a magistrate of a JP to get a search warrant.

Some options will guarantee their identities remain confidential for those concerned about anonymity and the genuine danger of a backlash against informants. Crimestoppers – a completely independent organisation that will guarantee the informant remains anonymous but will work with police to ensure the information gets to the right investigators. 0800-555-111 or

If the informant provides information directly to the police but wishes to remain anonymous, the police can use evidence gathered from a search warrant to make a prosecution without the need for witness testimony. Either way, anybody who wants to take action to shut down dealers and P houses can remain in control of the process without putting themselves in danger.

The key is working together as a community to ensure that independent information gets to the police and they have the tools to fix the problem.

The second important point raised was the part that social media could play in throwing light on criminal (or suspected criminal) activities. The Police team acknowledged that social media does have an important role to play. However, as the presenters pointed out, if these activities are splashed on Facebook or Instagram but are NOT reported to police, they are behind the eight balls when it comes to taking action.

So the message is loud and clear; chucking it up on Facebook is not enough. Social media is not judge and jury, and criminal activity cannot be prosecuted if not reported to the authorities.

Sadly, after the meeting was over, one of our residents went outside to find their car had been keyed, and they now have deep scratches all down the side of their vehicle. This incident has been reported to our local station. It does raise whether or not we should be re-examining the use of CCTV cameras in town. They were installed some years ago, but they are no longer operating to the best of our knowledge.

However, Senior Sergeant Friend did reveal that there are cameras in operation across the Peninsula (including one recently installed in Tairua) capable of flagging the number plate of a stolen car and reporting it to police immediately. So, if you’re thinking of pinching a car and bringing it to the Coromandel, don’t bother. You will be caught.

Senior Sergeant Rupert Friend – Waikato DHQ