A sunny Castle Street in the heart of Otago University ‘studentville’ is the perfect place for Otago Coastal Prevention Teams to set up the Mobile Community Police Hub.
It’s a welcoming presence for the hordes of students moving into their flats for the new academic year.
As Flo week (Flatting O week) gets under way, students begin lugging their secondhand (and often fifth or sixth-hand) furniture into the ‘character’ Dunedin residences surrounding Otago University. It’s also a week where, naturally, all are very keen to warm their flats with enthusiastic gatherings.
Alcohol Prevention Teams and Community Officers have always worked alongside students to police positively through this week, to keep students safe at such a socially active time.
This year is a little different, with COVID-19 Alert Level 2 being announced right at the start of Flo week, then shifting to Alert Level 1 in the middle.
Following these changes, Otago Coastal teams working with students have continued their alcohol and harm reduction messaging, but have brought in an initiative to support safety within the context of COVID-19 Alert Level changes.
The Mobile Police Community Hub became something of a print shop, with officers making sure students could print and laminate COVID-19 QR codes for their flats, to keep themselves and visitors to any of their planned gatherings safe.
The initiative has proved popular with students who were lining up to get their laminated QR codes, as well burglary prevention packs, fridge magnets and other goodies.
“It’s all about making sure students have the right tools to keep themselves and their property safe,” says Alcohol Harm Reduction Sergeant Ian Paulin. “We can help with that, and by being visible in their neighbourhoods, we’re in the best position to help.”
“The QR codes are just another way for us to encourage safety, especially at such a social time for students.”