Auckland’s CBD became home to a series of random attacks at the end of March. The assaults, occurring in the early hours of the morning, have been confirmed by police to be part of a spike in violent crime in the area.
Key areas for the incidents have been identified as Fort Street, Karangahape Road and the general Viaduct area. Keeping yourself safe during late night/early morning activities has always been an important aspect of going out, however with the recent spike in crime it has been highlighted how difficult personal safety can be, even when in groups and major city areas.
Craccum reached out to the New Zealand Police, with Inspector Scott Gemmell responding to our enquiries, saying in a statement that “this behaviour is disappointing and we know that a lot of the incidents we are attending in the early hours in the CBD are fuelled by alcohol consumption. While we have a significant Police presence involving officers from our frontline, beat and alcohol harm teams, we cannot be everywhere at once.” With this in mind, some students may find it helpful to have strategies on how to protect yourself should you end up in an unsafe situation.
A night out for many people can lead to drunkenness that affects cognitive function, and “party culture” celebrates the overconsumption of alcohol, however it’s important to monitor how sober you are even just towards the end of the night when you’re leaving a safer space. “Know your limits and look after your mates. If you see they’ve had too much to drink, help them get home safely.” states Inspector Gemmell. Additionally, having an Uber or a sober driver already waiting before you go outside can further limit your time in a potentially unsafe space. Without encouraging violence, knowing the basics of self defence is always beneficial if you happen to find yourself being attacked. The BBC reports that some professors have noted that martial arts techniques, specifically Judo, can be helpful forms of self defence, even extending to people with visual impairment. There is a strong emphasis on putting your hands on top of the attackers when being grabbed as it allows you to sense where the attacker is in relation to yourself; visual impairment can be experienced by everyone to some extent at nighttime when it is darker, and this technique therefore offers benefit to all. Judo instructor, Shintaro Higashi, has videos that run for five minutes or less available on YouTube for judo basics with some specifically targeted at self defence.
The current attacks that have been reported in the media are a family group of thirteen leaving a 50th birthday party, the group of three men leaving a bar, and a man identified as Barry Rusher, who told NZ Herald he has suffered serious injuries and will need to learn to walk again. Police are “continuing to make enquiries into these incidents, including making CCTV enquiries”, as well as increasing their presence within the CBD.
If you are in an unsafe situation, contact emergency services on 111.