Palmerston North – Still Not a Safe City, Especially for Women


crime in nz

Palmerston North continues to be afflicted by crime

Thinking about studying in Palmerston North? until it gets its crime problem sorted out look elsewhere.

Our regulars will remember the censorship of Palmerston North’s Wikipedia page to remove all mention of crime because it was putting off professionals from settling in the township. If only it were that easy to remove the criminals too.

Back in December 2009 we highlighted the uncomfortable fact that there’s at least one sex assault in Palmerston North every week, asking if the town was the rape capital of New Zealand. At that time women were warned not to walk home alone at night. However, not only have the sex attacks continued but women are also now being attacked in their homes.

The police must be at their wits end, it’s hard to manage on the limited resources from a government that is keen to artificially depress recorded crime figures and is closing police stations (Police shut 30 stations in effort to combat budget cuts). Palmerston North police have therefore resorted to public appeals to catch the perpetrators of the sex crimes that have been plaguing the town.

Last week’s edition of the Manawatu Standard makes it sound like Palmerston North’s sex crimes are a recent problem.

A series of sexual assaults committed by “strangers” has thrown sexual assault into the spotlight as Palmerston North police turn to the public for help to find the culprits. Six sexual assaults were committed in the city between October 2014 and March 2015, but there has been just one arrest for two of the offences.

In the most recent case, an 18-year-old woman left an inner-city bar shortly before 3am on March 14. She was befriended by a man, taken to George St and sexually attacked. A week earlier, a woman in her late 20s was taken to a park and sexually assaulted by two men who had offered to give her a lift home in the early hours of March 7. Both cases are still under investigation, but no arrests have been made.

Between October and January, four women aged in their late-teens and 20s, were sexually assaulted in the early hours of the morning, while asleep in their homessource

The Abuse and Rape Crisis Support Manager told the Manawatu Standard his organisation was currently helping between 70-100 victims of sexual assault.

I’ve been in this position for eight years and I can’t recall so many [attacks] in such a short space of time, but that’s simply because they have been very public ones; you would certainly get that level of sexual abuse happening, it’s just not that public.

Particularly those home invasions, it’s not what you expect because your home is meant to be somewhere you feel safe, so that was incredibly distressing . . . I think that was particularly concerning for the wider community.” source

In addition to its crime problem, Palmerston North is also known for its student population, it’s very likely that many of these victims were women attending Massey University, but you won’t see that (or their nationalities) mentioned in press reports. Why? because the education sector is a big money earner for the town and there’s a concern that if Uni students were identified as the targets for sex offenders it could put people off studying there.

Massey University actively promotes itself to international students, with the tag line “Welcome to Massey University, New Zealand’s defining university.”Defining for what, exactly?

Each year more than 3,800 international students from 100 countries study at Massey, many of them choosing New Zealand because they believe it’s a safe place with a low crime rate. If they base their research on Wikipedia pages, edited to remove mention of crime, that could be forgiven for having that impression. Maybe its time for a little honesty and openness, for their sakes?

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