Manawatū’s Mayor is calling for change, saying the community is on edge after a spate of crime.
In recent months Feilding has been victim to a violent carjacking, car chases and drunk driving incidents.
A restructure of the local police force in 2016 saw Feilding go from having 32 officers to just seven.
Data from the NZ Police website shows victimisations have risen in the Central District, from 28,945 in January 2022 to 33,223 in January 2023.
From May 2022 to January 2023 there were 1618 victimisations in Feilding, and in this year alone, there have already been 140 victimisations.
Manawatū mayor Helen Worboys told AM on Wednesday the recent spate of serious crime is leaving parts of her community “scared”.
“It’s just been on a steady increase and our community when I talk to other Mayors around the country is no different,” Worboys told AM co-host Amanda Gillies.
“The whole crime scene is increasing and the seriousness of some of these crimes, some parts of our community are now scared with some of the recent things that have happened.”
An example is when thieves stole a vehicle before ramming a police car and violently carjacking an elderly driver, who suffered moderate injuries and was sent to hospital last month.
Worboys said the limited police staff they have in the region do a “fantastic job” but they just don’t have enough of them following the restructure in 2016.
“We’ve been feeling it and as a result of that the crime incidents have gone up and up and … people have given up trying to report anything that’s going on,” she said.
“Shoplifting amongst our retailers, the schools having to play police after school and in lunch breaks and like the carjackings you mentioned, you’ve got victims who then have to suffer, plus their families with little or no support as the victims of these crimes and it’s just not good enough. We have to do something about it as a country.”
Worboys said the centralisation model for police was not working locally and believes Feilding is viewed as a second priority for officers who often responded to Palmerston North’s priority events first.
“My concern is that we actually have to try and deal with this from the top down. We’ve had community leaders meetings with the area and district commanders, we’ve spoken directly to the minister and we’ve had community protests around the clock tower and nothing’s changed and we’ve got to get the Government to listen,” she said.
“In fact, when we talked to the minister, he said ‘It’s not a government problem, it’s a district and area commander problem who are not allocating their resources properly’, so we’ve challenged that.”
Worboys wants to see Feilding get back to the “good old days” when it was considered a safe place.
“What we want to see is the good old days when friendly Feilding was considered one of the safest communities in the country,” she told AM.
“We had three youth aid officers. We had grassroots police. We had police on the beat in the street. We just want to see that back again.”
Watch the full interview with Helen Worboys in the video above.