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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.

Story by Carl Walrond
Main image: Closed circuit television monitors

Story Summary

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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 – for this reason alcohol is sometimes banned in public places.

Safer cities

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 2011, 81% of over 2,000 Auckland residents considered that the region was ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ safe from crime. However, in the previous year 25% of those surveyed had been a victim of harassment, intimidation or assault and 26% had been a victim of some crime in the region.

Some people feel unsafe in their own homes. Some join Neighbourhood Support Groups which aim to reduce all kinds of crime.

Public transport

A survey in 2011 of attitudes towards safety in the Auckland region found that 41% of those who participated would feel either ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ unsafe waiting for a bus alone after dark. 51% of women and 52% percent of those under 30 indicated that they would feel unsafe in this situation.

In the 1990s many women learned self-defence. Those advocating self-defence argued that anyone who is attacked is justified in using reasonable force to protect themselves.

Property security

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 early 21st century closed-circuit television cameras were also used to monitor property and public places.

How to cite this page:

Carl Walrond, 'Security and personal safety', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/security-and-personal-safety (accessed 26 February 2018)

Story by Carl Walrond, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 Aug 2017