Story: Security and personal safety
People walking city streets at night may look fearfully down dark alleys or ill-lit streets. In fact they are more at risk of harm in their own homes, at the hands of those they know.
Full story by Carl Walrond
Main image: Closed circuit television monitors
The Short Story
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Some people are afraid to venture onto city streets at night, scared that they will be attacked by strangers. In fact people are more likely to be attacked at home, by someone they know.
Groups of drunk people misbehaving can be intimidating – sometimes alcohol is banned in public places.
Planners can design cities which are safer, and make people feel less at risk. Well lit streets, people nearby and no obvious hiding places all help. Changes in New Zealand towns and cities are part of an international trend to make public places safer.
In 1989, 7% of people felt safe in the Auckland city centre after dark. Ten years later 44% felt safe.
Some people feel unsafe in their own homes. Some join Neighbourhood Support Groups which aim to reduce all kinds of crime.
Around a third of women avoid public transport at night. They dislike walking to bus stops or railway stations, and feel unsafe waiting for buses or trains. People feel less safe if there is graffiti or other signs of vandalism.
In the 1990s many women learned self-defence. Anyone who is attacked is justified in using reasonable force to protect themselves.
From the 1950s security firms patrolled buildings and transported cash. It is illegal for security guards to carry guns.
From the 1980s police focused more on violent crime rather than property offences such as theft. Some people hired private investigators to recover their stolen property. There was a big increase in the number of household burglar alarms. In the 2000s closed-circuit television cameras were also used to monitor property and public places.