Auckland mayor funds more wardens after public transport attacks

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has approved funding to support increased patrols by compliance wardens amid a series of attacks on young people across the city’s public transport network.

Brown said recent initiatives increased safety in Central Auckland but added there was a lack of regular coordinated patrols outside the CBD where public safety is also a major concern.

Wardens, working in four teams of two, would address “low-level” antisocial behavior such as liquor ban breaches, obstruction and general nuisance.

Brown said he was “horrified” to hear of the assault of a teenager at the New Lynn train station late last month.

“That is not acceptable.

“Every Aucklander should feel safe when in their local town centers and using public transport.”

The patrols would be “mobile”, “spread evenly” across Auckland in identified “hotspot” areas and can begin “as soon as Monday”, he added.

Brown said increased patrols were “just a band-aid solution” and that additional Government resourcing was required through police and mental health to “make a long-term difference.”

Wardens would be overseen by the Regional Compliance Team, who would provide support and guidance, direct staff and provide an immediate response to live incidents.

The announcement comes as a bus drivers’ union organizer said the violence had reached a “crisis point.”

First Union’s Hayley Courtney told Breakfast bus drivers are “living in fear.”

“Every day, they wake up in the mornings or before their shifts, worried that they’re not going to return to see their families after they’ve finished their driving duties.”

One teenage victim, who was attacked on a bus in Albany last month, told 1News: “It’s so stressful because we need to bus, but we’re scared to.

“I’m still in shock and I can’t believe that it happened, absolutely.”

AT’s public transport director Stacey van der Putten told Breakfast that there were often many factors behind these incidents.

“It is a really complex social issue, that we’re seeing — particularly with youth,” she said.

“I understand that, as a mother of two teenagers, it’s really concerning that we’re seeing this and we’re seeing this spike.”