Bus-ting out to keep people safe

Nutech security officers Mathew Sargent and Shanaiah Ward improve the mood at bus interchanges in Tauranga. Photo: John Borren.

Public safety for both the passengers and drivers of Tauranga buses has been an important focus over the Christmas and New Year summer period.

The security company Nutech has been contracted by Bay of Plenty Regional Council since December 20, 2020, to monitor behaviour at bus interchanges in Chadwick Rd in Greerton and Willow St in the Tauranga CBD.

“This follows a number of incidents which put bus drivers at risk and have made some passengers feel unsafe in and around the bus interchanges,” says Bay of Plenty Regional Council Public Transport committee chairperson Andrew von Dadelszen.

The Willow St bus terminal had become a popular hangout spot in the latter part of 2020 for people who were seen drinking or sniffing solvents in the liquor ban area and approaching people for change or cigarettes. Some Tauranga residents had expressed they were tired of feeling scared and intimidated at the terminal.

When the issue was highlighted in November, Tauranga Police senior sergeant Chris Summerville said police regularly conduct foot patrols in the city centre to help prevent anti-social and criminal behaviour.

“Many of those dealt with for this offending are suffering a wide range of welfare issues and police will often use alternative resolutions and referrals to partner agencies to assist with specialist help,” says Chris.

Police's advice to anyone who feels unsafe on the streets is to move somewhere where they feel more comfortable, and to call police straight away on 111.

The initiative to monitor behaviour at the two bus interchanges is a partnership between Bay of Plenty Regional Council, NZ Police, Tauranga City Council and NZ Bus.

“The public in Greerton has mentioned to security officers how good it has been to see a security presence in the area making them feel safer,” says von Dadelszen.

“Greerton business owners have been impressed and have mentioned starting a petition to keep Nutech officers within the village area on a regular basis as they feel in one week alone it has made a difference.”

Security officers say they have mainly been dealing with groups of youths in the Greerton and Willow St areas.

The Nutech contract will be reviewed at the end of January.

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