Attacks on children highlight need for greater Police powers

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Reports of school children being attacked by window washers in Auckland this week are alarming and unacceptable, says Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross.

Children from local schools that frequently pass the intersection of Greenlane Road and Great South Road have recently been the subject of harassment and attacks.

Police, parents and school staff have pointed to the presence of window washers as likely being responsible for the theft and attacks that children have experienced.

The MP behind a move to pass tougher laws targeting window washers says the recent attacks highlight the need for police to be given greater powers to deal with the problem.

"It's reassuring to read that police have been able to make arrests in relation to these attacks", says Mr Ross. 

“But young children trying to get to and from school shouldn't have to put up with such attacks and theft.

"The concern and fears their parents have about the presence of window washers is completely understandable. The safety of children travelling in the morning and afternoon must be taken seriously.

"New Zealand police unfortunately are left to deal with the consequences of window washers without having real power to tackle them.

"Window washing is currently only an offence against Auckland Council's bylaw. The only option police and council have under the bylaw is to take a prosecution through the courts. This is costly, time consuming and ineffective.

"Parliament needs to act to give police the right powers to target window washers at problem intersections. Police have been calling for the power to fine window washers and to be able to move them on from hotspot intersections.

"If police had the power to clean up intersections from window washers, harassment and attacks would be prevented from happening. Tackling the problem of window washing before other issues escalate out of control is what we need to focus on”.

Mr Ross has recently drafted a members bill which would amend the Land Transport Act and related regulations to make it an offence to wash vehicles in a manner that may be unsafe, that may intimidate or cause a nuisance to any person, or may cause an obstruction to vehicles.

The law change would establish a $150 fine that police can issue and classify window washing as an offence under the Act.

"I share the concerns police and parents have for their children. Window washers have been known to harass and intimidate motorists frequently. Now they’re taking to attacking school children.

"We need to give police and the community more support. Changing the law to give police greater powers in this area will help them keep the public, particularly school children, safer from window washers".