Attribute to Commissioner Andrew Coster:
Police will have an increased presence and visibility in areas experiencing the most harm from serious retail crime, and will broaden a gang-focussed operation to intensify efforts to target prolific offenders.
Police recognise the concern the public is feeling after the homicide in Sandringham last week and the seriousness of crime affecting retail businesses.
We understand any incident that involves violence impacts the feelings of safety for business owners, families, friends and the wider community.
Our staff continue to work very hard to respond, investigate and hold those who cause this harm accountable for their actions. Those districts most affected by retail burglaries and robberies have already demonstrated a strong focus on apprehending offenders, having increased visibility in their community, and working with other government agencies to address the broader social issues associated with this offending.
Police will further sharpen a focus on reducing this type of harm in the community, and where possible, have increased foot and vehicle patrols in shopping precincts in areas where there has been an increased number of reports. This is to offer reassurance to businesses and our communities that may be feeling unsafe following recent events.
These will continue as part of our normal deployment assessments and plans. There is no doubt the recent tragic death of Janak Patel in Sandringham has impacted our communities, including our staff who are working hard to support retailers. Every day, Police assess where we best focus our deployment of staff and this will always be based on areas seeing the most harm.
An example of the increase in focus is the recently-launched operation targeting youth disorder and violence in Lower Hutt CBD, that will see an increase in Police presence in the coming months.
We have also had district-specific operations – including Canterbury, Waikato and in Auckland City – where we have made significant arrests after a spate of retail-related offences.
To address the broader issues, we are supporting our partner government agencies, as they work to try and address the drivers of this serious offending, but Police’s role is very clear: we have an obligation to the community, and we will respond, investigate, apprehend, and hold people to account.
We know that what drives this offending is a complex issue that Police can’t solve alone, so we have also been working with other agencies on alternative resolutions for some of these young people. However, for repetitive and adult offenders, we are taking a stronger stance.
It is with this in mind and the success of recent national operations, Operation Cobalt - our focus on disrupting unlawful gang behaviour - will continue into the new year.
In addition to our efforts to target gang criminal activity, I have instructed that Operation Cobalt be broadened to also focus on those offenders that are causing significant and repeated harm. This includes those using stolen vehicles, and threats of violence with weapons to seriously impact people’s livelihoods and sense of safety.
Operation Cobalt, which was due to end in December, will now continue into the new year, when the expanded focus will be operationalised.
Police continue to urge members of the public to keep reporting incidents and suspicious behaviour to Police.
Anyone who needs Police urgently should call 111.
Issued by Police Media Centre.