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Policing changes result in drop in arrests

More than 1500 complaints over three years have related to disorder within Thames, but this number has been slowly decreasing as local police work to “manage risks” with public intoxication.
In May, The Profile lodged an Official Information Act request in regards to arrests and complaints for antisocial behaviour in Thames.
Police responded last month with figures that have been trending downward since 2020.
Ninety-one people were arrested in 2020 in relation to drug or alcohol use, and/or disorder, threatening or intimidating behaviour.
This number was 81 in 2021; 85 in 2022; and 37 in 2023 up to July 27.
According to police, when police communication centres receive a request for service, an event is entered in its Communication and Resource Deployment [CARD] system. Events can be lodged via many sources, and may include officer-discovered events.
The number of CARD events in relation to incidents relating to disorder, threatening/intimidating behaviour and use of alcohol or drugs within Thames has also been decreasing.
In 2020, there were 507 events; 423 in 2021; 447 in 2022; and 201 in 2023 (up to July 25).
“These events do not necessarily mean they are all complaints,” Police said. “They could include calls from members of the public calling about issues that they have witnessed or are involved in. Events may also have been initiated by police staff who have come across an incident in the course of their duties.”
The largest number of the 1578 events stemmed from behaviour offences (628), followed by threatening to kill or do grievous bodily harm (497).
There were 375 incidents of breaching the peace and 78 “drunk custody” events.
Police said it was not possible to determine if all the charges involved alcohol or drugs, as people may have been arrested for aggressive behaviour while being under the influence without police confirming this.
However, senior constable Gareth Carter said work was being done to lessen the impact of intoxication throughout Thames.
He told The Profile that local police have been working with the Thames-Coromandel District Council liquor licensing team to conduct “several prevention-based activities” focused around retailers and outlets selling and supplying alcohol.
Over the past few years, Thames Police has also made operational changes around managing risks in relation to intoxicated persons in custody.
“In the past, intoxicated persons were likely held in custody for lower level offences such as disorderly behaviour until they sobered up enough to be released.
“Nowadays, these such people are more likely to be taken directly to private residences to be cared for by family or friends, or to the hospital to minimise the risk to their personal safety.”
Doing this frees up police resources, senior constable Carter said.
“While heavily intoxicated persons are in custody, they require constant or frequent monitoring, which certainly draws a large amount of police resourcing – with the aim being to keep them safe,” he said.
“This can be extremely hard, especially within rural areas such as Thames where at times there are only small numbers of police staff covering the area, and the closest fulltime staffed custody suite being in Hamilton or Auckland.”
Senior constable Carter said Thames Police looked to address all disorder issues in a timely manner and actively employed “various prevention strategies” to reduce the harm these incidents cause within the community.
“It is certainly pleasing to me personally to see that the rates of incidence are decreasing,” he said. “Long may it continue.”
DETAILS: Police encourage the public to report events such as assault by calling 111 and non-emergency events such as public intoxication via 105. The CBD of Thames is subject to 24/7 Alcohol Ban Council Bylaw and Police can choose to enforce this with instant fines when necessary.