Greytown residents Warren Woodgyer and Shelley Symes. PHOTOS/EMILY IRELAND

Petition for police community constable reinstatement gains traction
Petition gets more than 1000 supporters

Emily Ireland

Warren Woodgyer was told he had the same chances of winning the Lotto as he did in getting a police community constable reinstated in Greytown.

He saw it as a worthy challenge and has collected more than 1000 signatures on his petition for the reinstatement.

He will also be holding a public meeting next week.

In January 2014, police stations at Greytown and Martinborough closed to the public during restructuring when the sole charge positions were disestablished.

After a “crime wave” in Greytown last year, a public meeting was called, “but we didn’t really get a chance to talk about what the meeting was called about”, Woodgyer said.

“Currently, there are police cars hovering 24/7 around the police district … I call them the pop-up police.

“Our aim is to bring back a Greytown community constable who lives, works and is on call after hours to attend incidents which occur in our local community.”

He said some benefits of having a community constable were that there would be an immediate response to local incidents, “someone to talk to, grassroots support, offending [would be] nipped in the bud”, and there would be a deterrent for petty crime.

Woodgyer started the petition on the recommendation from Wairarapa-based NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark.

More than 1000 people signed the petition to have a Greytown community constable reinstated.

Last Friday, Woodgyer was joined by fellow Greytown resident Shelley Symes outside FreshChoice rallying support for the cause.

“We’ve heard some horror stories from people who have signed this petition,” Symes said.

“They’ve had their homes, their cars, their own selves at risk.

“Just being here for one day in my case, I’ve heard some stories that frighten me.”

She said she had been told of a road rage incident that forced a man to lock himself in his car while people surrounded his vehicle, beating down on it.

“There’s a lot of petty stuff that is intimidating.

“We need to feel that we can get help when we need it, not when they have a car patrolling around perchance.

“People here do feel vulnerable.”

From June 1, 2018 to May 31, this year, there were 96 crimes with victims in Greytown: 51 offences related to unlawful entry with intent/burglary/break and enter, 35 offences related to theft, nine offences related to acts intended to cause injury, and one related to sexual assault.

In comparison, there were 105 offences in Featherston, 67 in Kahutara, 50 in Martinborough, and 10 in Tuturumuri – 328 for the South Wairarapa District.

Carterton District had 203 offences in the same time period, and Masterton District had 1130.

A Midweek analysis of police data showed there was a similar rate of victim-crimes between Masterton District and Greytown: there were 43 offences in Masterton per 1000 people living there, and 41 offences in Greytown per 1000 people living there.

A police spokesperson said Wairarapa Police were working closely with community representatives regarding how its staff were best deployed to keep communities safe.

“Wairarapa Police Area Commander Scott Miller and Senior Sergeant Barry Bysouth recently attended a meeting at the South Wairarapa District Council office in Martinborough where police proposals around where and how we will deploy our staff were outlined,” the spokesperson said.

“This was an open meeting where the community were invited to hear the proposals and ask any questions of the officers where they had concerns.

“It is the police’s intention to have frontline staff available throughout the Wairarapa 24/7, with an additional community staff presence in our South Wairarapa towns in addition to the frontline staff.

“This will create better accessibility to police – not only in Greytown but in all of the South Wairarapa towns.”

Woodgyer said the meeting mentioned by police consisted of the mayor, councillors, community board members, council staff, and “a very small number of ratepayers”.

“There is a distinction between consulting and speaking to.”

A public meeting, organised by Woodgyer, will be held on Wednesday, July 31 at 7.30pm at the Greytown Workingmen’s Club.

Wairarapa-based MPs will be in attendance.