Operation Dukan - Power to the people

Operation Dukan - Power to the people

EBPOP Awards 2017 - the winners

Whatever their language, everybody understands safety.

In late 2015 and early 2016 Counties Manukau District saw a surge in robberies of small retail outlets, with 95 percent of the victims from South Asian communities.

Front-page stories contributed to the unease. “Retailers were scared and vulnerable and were questioning Police’s ability to respond to those offences,” says Nichola Nutsford, District Manager Intelligence.

“As a result, trust and confidence in Police was decreasing.”

In 2013-14 there were around 21 robberies of dairies and liquor stores a year. In 2015 there were 32, and in 2016 there were 29 just to April, with increasing use of weapons and violence.

The criminals wanted cash, alcohol and cigarettes. There was dissatisfaction with Police response times, which averaged ten minutes for liquor stores and 30 minutes for dairies and superettes.

Something had to be done. “Any response needed to be tailored for cultural considerations,” says Nichola.

There were language barriers and challenges with retailers not understanding prevention measures or police procedures. “There was a need to shut stores to preserve evidence but retailers wanted to keep them open - this is their livelihood.”

In 2014 Operation Dukan underlined the value of using officers to give retailers prevention advice in their own language. In 2016 it appeared a re-energised Dukan could help.

“The underlying objective was to empower retailers to take measures to discourage crime and reduce victimisation and revictimisation,” says Sergeant Gurpreet Arora, District Ethnic Services Coordinator.

“We wanted to equip them with knowledge, information and skills to help them create a safer environment for themselves.”

Officers with appropriate language skills and cultural understanding were selected and assigned to the relaunched Dukan.

Store visits lasted an average 45 minutes and aimed to minimise disruption of trade. Police used a safety audit form on their phones to identify potential improvements aligned with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).

“CPTED is about ensuring a clean and a tidy place and having a clear line of sight,” says Gurpreet. “It means having clear windows, shelving not too high, people can easily look into the shop and the retailer can keep an eye on the whole shop.”

Police role-played ways staff could get to safety, and the best way for retailers to report incidents to Police.

All district staff were encouraged to engage more with retailers.

“It was a district-wide response where the mindset was shifted to being victim-focused, taking every opportunity to prevent harm to retailers,” says Gurpreet.

“PST, CIB, Road Policing and other staff would visit stores, even just to say ‘Hi’. It provided reassurance and a sense of safety and security to retailers. They felt someone out there cared for them.”

Dukan worked closely with ethnic media. “The wider community realised we have to work collaboratively with Police. It isn’t a one-way street,” says Gurpreet.

Operation Dukan helped a vulnerable population be safe and feel safe. Average response times – an important factor in trust and confidence - were reduced by a third and positive feedback from retailers was backed by research.

In 2016, 83 offences involved 19 repeat locations. In 2017, to mid-September, there were 48 offences at eight repeat locations.

In a survey before Operation Dukan, 62 percent of respondents said they felt unsafe or very unsafe. Only 7.5 percent had not been victimised.

In a survey in mid-2017, 30 percent of respondents felt unsafe or very unsafe and 33 percent had not been victimised.

Operation Dukan has been extended across Tāmaki Makaurau, and other districts have made inquiries about the model.

When the Government announced help for crime-hit small retailers earlier this year, its research included a version of the Dukan safety audit.

Retailers will be surveyed again to keep track of any changes. Meanwhile, engagement is ongoing, even just at the casual level of police dropping in to say ‘Hello’ when walking past a store.

Later this year an Indian Safety Patrol will step out in shopping centres in Counties Manukau – a community initiative reflecting a new feeling among locals.

“Dukan has increased community resilience,” says Gurpreet. “The community has realised Police can’t be everywhere every time. We’ve empowered retailers to create a safer environment for themselves, their staff and their families as well.”

Dukan team

 

Operation Dukan 2016 won the award for Excellence in Reducing Repeat Victimisation at the 2017 Evidence Based Problem Oriented Policing (EBPOP) Awards.