What is the aim of the Organisation?
To make Te Awamutu and all the surrounding rural areas safe environments for the residents to live, work & play.
Te Awamutu Safer Community Charitable Trust / CommSafe – The Early Days
CommSafe was established in 2006 and formally registered as Te Awamutu Safer Community Charitable Trust in January 2007 with a mission statement of “Working together throughout the Te Awamutu environs to build safer and healthier communities”.
In 2011 the trustees completed a review of the trustee’s goals and developed a vision to expand the areas of interest from more than just Te Awamutu and its environs to any area and community who could benefit from the trust’s vision.
In May 2007 Te Awamutu Safer Community Charitable Trust (The Trust) opened an office at the Kihikihi Community House in Lyon Street in conjunction with the Maori Women’s Welfare League and the Kihikihi Police Base.
The Trust developed a community garden donating produce to a number of needy groups. A partnership was later formed with Waikato Primary Health to develop a Community Health Coach program aimed at recruiting, training and coordinating community health coaches. A contracted coordinator worked with local communities to deliver healthy lifestyle projects. This project achieved significant results over an 18 month period which terminated when health funding was no longer available.
In April 2011 CommSafe negotiated an agreement with Waipa District Council for a long term lease of the rarely used Kihikihi Memorial Hall. The interior of the hall was substantially renovated and offices built. The building has been the home of CommSafe ever since.
A retired police officer was employed for 20 hours per week as Community Safety Officer to administer and co-ordinate the various aspects of the Trust.
The name was changed to CommSafe but the main goal remained the same – striving to make Te Awamutu and all the surrounding rural areas safe environments for the residents to live, work and play.
Present Day – What does CommSafe do:
CommSafe has now 2 aspects of its entity – Community Patrols and Neighbourhood Support.
A trustee rosters the 19 volunteer community patrollers for their 4 hour shifts in which 2 patrollers travel the streets of Te Awamutu, Kihikihi, Ohaupo and Pirongia being eyes and ears for the New Zealand Police.
At times the patrollers are requested to assist police with specific tasks such as maintaining a watchful eye of certain areas where there may have been an increase in crime levels. These tasks range from manning road closures and barriers to supervising a prisoner held in custody for a short period of time.
NEIGHBOURHOOD SUPPORT / RURAL NEIGHBOURHOOD SUPPORT
Administered by the Community Safety Officer, Neighbourhood Support has increased greatly over the past 12 years. Approximately 3700 household numbers are made up of 350 groups, all of which have a volunteer co-ordinator. The co-ordinators can establish the original need for a new
support group and follow the process through by having the Community Safety Officer arrange a meeting, often at the new co-ordinators home, for all the neighbours to meet and establish lines of communication. At times this can be the first time some of the neighbours have met each other.
The Community Safety Officer will forward any information relevant to particular groups to the group co-ordinator to pass on to neighbours. There have been numerous occasions where neighbours have contacted each other if there have been concerns about strange vehicles in the area, particularly in the rural areas, or other unusual occurrences.
In 2016 CommSafe invested in a software programme which enables residents to self manage their details in the Neighbourhood Support database. There is also functionality for householders to send messages to the Community Safety Office advising of any issues in their vicinity.”
A key component of the program is also the ability to be used as a civil defence tool. The householders can list any medical requirements eg power for dialysis machine etc. There is also the ability to record any personal skills / trades – nurse etc or resources available eg. bulldozer, tractor etc.
JUNIOR NEIGHBOURHOOD SUPPORT
CommSafe has developed Junior Neighbourhood Support in primary schools and has a vision to expand this programme to a number of other schools. The JNS programme is aimed at promoting a sense of pride, safety and community spirit in children, their schools and their wider community.
CCTV – CRIME PREVENTION CAMERAS
Over the past 18 years several of the CommSafe trustees have advocated the need for CCTV monitoring in Te Awamutu. The vision gained momentum and a district wide group evaluated the potential locations and numbers of camera required to monitor a number of the main areas of Waipa District – Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi.
Waipa District Council has negotiated a contract for the installation of a district wide CCTV system. While initially the cameras will focus primarily on the commercial areas plus entrances / exits to the towns other areas have already intimated an interest in purchasing individual cameras which would be linked to the district network – eg. Karapiro Domain.
Benefit to the local community:
CommSafe is working on the ground within the local communities endeavouring to ensure the public feel at ease, knowing that fellow neighbours are watching out for each other, being aware of what vehicles normally travel their rural roads.
Within the Te Awamutu, Kihikihi, Ohaupo and Pirongia urban streets residents know that a Community patrol vehicle may travel their street at night watching for unusual behaviour and occurrences.
There is support from all avenues of the community including Waipa District Council, Te Awamutu Police, Te Awamutu Community Board, Te Awamutu Chamber of Commerce, local security firms and many community groups.