Auckland’s CBD sinks into anarchy and looks like 1980s New York City, city leaders say


Auckland’s Queen St where homeless people find free places to sleep. Photo / File

Downtown Auckland is slipping into lawlessness and looks a lot like 1980s New York City, with only fewer killings, a concerned resident told city leaders.

“Auckland is internationally regarded as one of the safest and friendliest major cities in the world. I believe that if things don’t change before the borders reopen, it’s a reputation we will quickly and irreparably lose,” said the resident. in an open letter to Mayor Phil Goff and Auckland Central MP Chloe Swarbrick.

The resident, who does not want to be named, said he no longer felt safe in what was once a thriving CBD and worried about his wife who has been followed by disreputable characters half a dozen times over. times.

“Every day, and most nights, I hear people yelling at each other, fighting, setting off fireworks on the sidewalk between buildings.

Auckland's CBD is falling into anarchy, says one resident.  Photo / Michael Craig
Auckland’s CBD is falling into anarchy, says one resident. Photo / Michael Craig

“Public drunkenness, methamphetamine rages, and opioid comas are now so common that when I see someone lying motionless in the middle of the trail all I do is check to see if they are breathing before continuing.

“I wonder how much of this has to do with a five-fold increase in the number of emergency housing here, combined with the ‘501’ evicted all being placed in the CBD. Combine that with minimal police presence, little or no consequences for crime and anti-social behavior, increased unemployment, and little or no support for mental health and addiction, ”he said.

The man asked Goff and Swarbrick what plans they had to address this “before CBD became universally considered a place to avoid?”

His image of life in the city center follows a Herald series, Crime in the City, which took place just before the Auckland lockdown in August.

There has been an increase in crime in central Auckland this year.  Photo / Mike Scott
There has been an increase in crime in central Auckland this year. Photo / Mike Scott

The series revealed that more than 1,000 people have been assaulted in the CBD this year and a sharp increase in violent crime.

“We would probably have two or three serious assaults per weekend, if not more,” Inspector Gary Davey, Auckland Central area commander, told the Herald in August.

Asked about the current lockdown situation, Davey said police did not notice any significant changes in the city center and were conducting as many visibility patrols as possible.

“We want to assure our community that we hear their concerns about issues of anti-social behavior and delinquency. We understand that this type of behavior can be extremely distressing and confrontational for those who experience and witness it.”

Davey said police are having issues in the city center and are working hard with partners to try to resolve some of those issues, adding that they are complex social issues that require a multi-agency response.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.  Photo / File
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. Photo / File

Responding to the resident, Goff said the closures have exacerbated homelessness, addiction and mental health issues in the community and that fewer people in the city make the streets less safe.

Goff said the council has a role to play, but effective responses lie with government agencies and the police, who have the power to arrest or move people.

“Alcohol and drug abuse and the pulling of people with mental health problems to the city center are the critical causes of the situation you are describing.

“These are compounded by Australia’s policy of deporting offenders to New Zealand who have lived most of their lives in Australia and do not have social media here. These are all serious issues that require attention. investment of resources by the central government to solve them, ”he added. noted.

Responding to the resident, Swarbrick said she was also a downtown resident and her experiences mirrored some of her own.

She said addiction, homelessness, poverty and mental health issues did not emerge overnight, but were made clear when the city returned to lockdown.

Auckland Central MP Chloe Swarbrick.  Photo / Dean Purcell
Auckland Central MP Chloe Swarbrick. Photo / Dean Purcell

Swarbrick said she has worked for years with Auckland City Mission, Lifewise, Manaaki Rangatahi, NZ Drug Foundation, Odyssey House and other housing, mental health and addiction support services to prevent issues such as “anti-social behavior” before they happen.

“The police are also informing me that their agents, many of whom have been seconded to MIQ and at the border, will be back in mid-November,” she said.

Swarbrick said that a recent experiment “on the beat” for a 10pm to 4am shift made it clear that picking up someone and putting them in a cell overnight did nothing to prevent these problems from happening. reproduce.

“Moving a problem forward does not solve the problem. Real investment and resources in evidence-based solutions, like Housing First and the required global support, do, ”said the MP.

National Police spokesman Simeon Brown said it was becoming clear that Aucklanders did not feel safe in the CBD due to increased crime and muggings, with muggings up 63% in the first five months of the year and increased use of guns across the city.

He said people did not see a regular police presence in the CBD, due to 500 MIQ-based police officers on the Auckland border and the government’s inability to provide an additional 1,800 police.

“The government must listen to the people of Auckland and ensure that our police have the resources to keep Aucklanders safe and to reverse the trend of increasing crime and anti-social behavior,” said Brown.


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