'It's quite frightening' — Wellingtonians feeling unsafe as crime rate increases in CBD

Imogen Wells
Source: 1News

Some Wellington locals and business owners 1 NEWS has spoken to say they do not feel safe in the city.

Over a two year period, the capital’s CBD has seen a rise in misdemeanours, including sexual harassment, physical assaults, and theft.

Earlier this month, a video shared widely on social media showed a man being attacked by a bouncer on a Saturday evening.

CCTV footage has since revealed the man being assaulted had punched the security guard in the moments prior.

Last month, a man died in hospital after being assaulted outside Te Papa on a Saturday night.

Wellington Area Commander Superintendent Dean Silvester said these were isolated incidents which, unfortunately, garnered a lot of attraction online.

“When those have come to our attention we have been able to act swiftly,” he said.

However, residents in the capital are worried it’s no long the friendly city it once was.

One resident 1 NEWS spoke to said she’d been followed home more than once.

“There’s been a few times we’ve been followed home or along the street,” she said.

“It’s quite scary. I don’t feel safe at night time. When you’re in a group it’s usually fine but not by myself. I always Uber home and I live five minutes away.”

Another local said he frequently sees fights break out on Friday and Saturday evenings.

“As long as you keep your head to yourself or you’re with a group of safe friends then you’re fine.”

A Wellington business owner said he has had multiple threats on his life.

“It’s quite frightening. It’s got to the point where my staff don’t feel safe,” Hamish Garrick said.

His busy central-city shop, Night 'n Day Cuba Street, is also frequently robbed.

“Overnight and during the day are pretty much the same thing – dealing with drunks, dealing with abusive and threatening behaviour,” he said.

Wellington Area Commander Superintendent Dean Silvester said the city centre is an area of concern for police with its high number of assault and disorder incidents.

“They’re primarily occurring over the weekend and we would say that’s a result of alcohol consumption,” he said.

Wellington City Councillor Fleur Fitzsimmons said part of the problem is police failing to enforce the CBD’s liquor ban.

“We need to see police enforcing it. We need downtown Wellington to be a safe and stable community. At the moment we are seeing too much anti-social behaviour and violence which needs to stop.”

Police told 1 NEWS in a statement the organisation takes enforcing alcohol bans very seriously.

On evenings and weekends, police have an increased presence in the city, a spokesperson said, where officers enforce alcohol-free zones.

Garrick claims there are people drinking along Cuba Street regularly.

“Open drinks, right here, on Cuba Mall. And you see Police walk past and do nothing. Is that acceptable? No.”

Hospitality groups, the council, and police meet regularly to discuss the increase in crime in the CBD and to ensure the city is a safe place.

Officials agree there is no clear, single solution, but that something needs to change.