At the 2016 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards
Hamilton City Council led a highly successful, innovative and collaborative approach to address problems of people engaging in antisocial behaviour in public places.
Mayor Julie Hardaker led the Hamilton Central City Safety Plan, described by judges as “a well-planned and executed initiative which has addressed a complex issue, affecting all large urban centres, with positive results”.
Like many cities, Hamilton had a problem with people engaging in antisocial behaviour in public places. The project was launched in September 2014, in response to significant public and business concerns about this and to restore public confidence in the safety of the central city as the council works towards achieving the outcomes of the Hamilton Central City Transformation Plan.
The council set a three-year timeframe based on a holistic approach to improve perceptions of public safety, with mayor Hardaker leading a collaborative approach by multiple agencies to tackle the issue.
The project has taken a two-pronged approach of setting boundaries as to what is acceptable public behaviour and providing help to the homeless through the People’s Project – which has resulted in 125 people being housed and provided with ongoing support.
Outcomes have included a 30 percent reduction in reported crime in the central city and a significant rise in the number of individuals and businesses that feel safety has improved in the central city.
As well as providing direct support to the homeless, measures included implementing a bylaw that defined acceptable public behaviour, and working with police to see patrols stepped up. The council also revamped its City Safe team and highly-visible safety officers now patrol the central city at key times. CCTV camera operators also work to spot issues and ensure City Safe Patrols, police or ambulance staff are notified immediately where needed.
This article was first published in the August 2016 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.