'Something's stirred them up' – Waikato homicides see 'unusual' number of patched gang members in Hamilton says ex-cop

A former police officer turned Hamilton Council member says the three Waikato homicides have seen an "unusual" number of patched gang members on the streets of Hamilton and the deaths appear to "have stirred them up".

James Casson gave an interview to 1 NEWS' Katie Bradford today, following the violent deaths of three men in the Waikato region in the past month. 

"Something has stirred up the gang members, there has been quite a few patched different gangs in town here that is highly unusual so there is something going on here.

"Obviously these latest three homicides that police are saying are fairly much linked that's what will have done it and brought them out so there are concerns in the gang world as well," Mr Casson said.

The former cop has a warning for the public to be vigilant in the wake of the recent violence.

"They are targeting other gang members but the public can get caught in the crossfire and people can get hurt."

Read more: More than one gang involved in recent spate of Waikato homicides - police

Superintendent Bruce Bird says at this stage police are treating the three murders since June 30 as separate investigations. Source: Breakfast

He suggested a hui between gangs, police and council could help alleviate tensions.

"I encourage gang bosses to put out a truce and get a hui together with other gangs the police and council, I'd attend myself.

Three violent deaths in Waikato linked to gang crime, police say public not at risk. Source: 1 NEWS

"When you have gang meetings it gets things out in the open, gang bosses will know what's going on," Mr Cassson said.

However, speaking at a press conference today, Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said they were "targeted attacks" and the general community isn't in danger.

While Detective Pitkethley refused to name the gangs connected to the homicides, he assured that police have not heard talk of retaliations in the gang community.

 

James Casson, who is now a Hamilton Council member, says a hui between gangs, police and council could help alleviate tensions. Source: 1 NEWS

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Auckland church helping influx of homeless with mental health problems

An Auckland church providing housing for the homeless for more than a decade has had an influx of people dealing with poor mental health.

Faith Family Baptist Church in Panmure offers a 13-week programme to rehouse people in need.

Numeracy and literacy classes, and assistance with addiction and health were also included.

Church kaumātua Tom Ngapera said they had been putting a roof over people's heads for a while.

"We've been focusing on housing since 2005 but only on a small scale.

"But now, it's going to be here for a while 'til anybody gets their act together and start putting houses out there so that these people can get there."

About 15 people stay at the church and its buildings at any given time and tenants pay $200 a week for board, power and water.

Food was officially included and there was communal cooking and food donations.

Senior pastor Carla Perese said most people who came through ended up staying longer than 13 weeks but the church's aim is to provide transitional housing.

She said one lady had been there for two years and as part of getting people back on their feet it was important to find accommodation.

"We need the best care for her that we can get so that she can be able to have that self-worth of having her own home, living in her own house and having her own carers going through there.

"She can't have that here because of all the people who live here - there's that quality of life."

But Ms Perese said what the church did was more than just finding people a place to stay.

Housing coordinator Jason Tai said in recent months a lot of people had arrived with mental health problems.

That made it difficult to find out basic information.

"A lot of them don't even have identification, they don't have a bank account, they don't have driver licenses, 18-plus cards, anything like that."

Mr Tai said knowing how to communicate and support people struggling with their mental health could be tough.

"Not [being] professional social workers or anything like that, we engage with the people, we track them and we try and make the best decisions from there so sometimes it [can be] challenging."

It was about balancing their care with others also staying at the church.

But in all the years the church had tenants there was been only one incident where there were safety concerns.

Ms Perese was investigating which services they could get for tenants with mental health problems.

"If things go out of hand, if people start rising up, we just call the police because we can't deal with that.

"But a few days ago I did have a meeting with organisations just to talk about that and what support we can get in here."

Jesse Chiang

rnz.co.nz

Homeless person (file picture).
File picture. Source: Supplied

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Nine police staff disciplined over sexual harassment since 2014

Police have taken disciplinary action against nine staff for sexual harassing their work mates since 2014.

Official Information released to RNZ shows there have been a total of 20 complaints in that time.

Eleven other internal sexual harassment complaints did not lead to disciplinary action but would have been investigated.

It is not clear if the nine disciplined staff were uniformed officers, civilian employees, or if they still worked for the police.

RNZ asked if those involved were subject to a criminal investigation, but police were yet to confirm those details.

Police decide on a case-by-case basis whether the complaint should be dealt with as either an employment or criminal investigation.

In a statement, police deputy chief executive of people Kaye Ryan said any form of harassment was unacceptable and as an employer they would not tolerate that behaviour.

In a statement, Police Minister Stuart Nash said he expected all sexual harassment complaints, including those made against police staff, to be treated seriously.

"If an investigation finds sufficient grounds to warrant action, I expect police staff to be treated no differently from any other member of the public.

"I encourage women and men to speak up if they witness or are subjected to unacceptable conduct.

"Police have learned from the 2007 Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct. Police organisational culture and practice is now more progressive and empathetic."

Police Association president Chris Cahill said it was naive to think the New Zealand police was immune from workplace sexual harassment

"If you did that, you're then ignoring that there is always a risk of other matters that haven't been reported, and you don't want to say everything's perfect and miss the opportunity to make it even better.

"To me, it does say that people can come forward but that there's not a significant issue."

Considering New Zealand Police employs more than 12,000 people, the number of complaints was small, Mr Cahill said.

Trainee officers

On Tuesday, it was revealed four trainee police officers at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua were stood down pending investigations into claims of misconduct.

Two of those investigations were criminal.

And there are reports that at least one of the cases involves accusations of indecent assault but the police will not confirm that.

By Katie Doyle

rnz.co.nz

Police (file picture).
Source: rnz.co.nz

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Wellington petrol prices are some of the highest in NZ - why is it so high?

Motorists living in Wellington and parts of the South Island remain frustrated at having to pay more for petrol than anyone else.

The director of Rankin Treasury, Derek Rankin, said the government could help by dropping charges on petrol. Source: rnz.co.nz

In Wanaka it costs almost $2.64 to fill up. Wellingtonians are paying $2.49 a litre for petrol at the main stations in town.

That's more than in Auckland, which, even with its new regional fuel tax, is sitting around $2.46 in the central city - and Hunterville - where you can fill your tank for just $2.30.

On Adelaide road in the suburb of Newtown, two main players sit right opposite each other - BP, and Caltex.

Both are charging very close to $2.49 a litre - and motorists are not impressed.

Two Australian tourists in particular said in Whanganui the petrol was 19 cents cheaper per litre. They reckoned prices here were "a joke".

At a Challenge station in Johnsonville the price is four cents a litre cheaper, which is enough to convince locals to avoid the bigger players just a few minutes drive away.

Lloyd Hassed, the owner of the Johnsonville Challenge, said the reason his prices were cheaper was simple.

"It's over to their head office I guess, a lot of those sites are run by oil companies, and we're not."

He says there used to be Challenge stations in Wellington.

"What Challenge sites there were around have disappeared, because Caltex bought them, and sold a few of the sites off."

In Timaru two women have started a Facebook event, calling for people to boycott petrol stations on 26 October and October 27, as a protest about the inflated prices.

So far 18,000 people had indicated they were interested.

The Government said taxes were not the reason prices were so high - and was planning to push through legislation to allow the Commerce Commission to carry out market studies and require companies to hand over information.

Fuel companies need to explain why there's a 40 cent variation in fuel prices across the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"Just this morning the fuel station nearest my home is charging less a litre than the fuel station near the airport in Wellington. Ten cents less, and that's with the regional fuel tax in Auckland.

"There are variation in prices that cannot be explained solely by transport costs," she said. 

- ww.rnz.co.nz


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