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Christchurch to be designated an International Safe Community

21 October 2008

Christchurch will tonight (21 October) be designated an International Safe Community based on criteria developed by the World Health Organisation.

The special designation ceremony will be attended by more than 400 delegates attending the 17th International Safe Communities Conference being held in the city this week and 200 invited guests.

Chair of the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre on Community Safety Promotion Dr Leif Svanstrom and Safe Communities Foundation New Zealand Director Dr Carolyn Coggan will officiate at the ceremony.

The event will be a celebration of New Zealand culture and Christchurch’s initiatives in the three key areas of the Safer Christchurch Strategy: injury prevention, road safety and crime prevention.

Christchurch Mayor and Chair of the Safer Christchurch Interagency Group which oversees the Strategy Bob Parker says tonight is a proud moment for the city and its 21 Safer Christchurch agencies.

"Christchurch City has always played a key role in community safety. It was in Christchurch that community road safety in New Zealand first started in the early 1980s when the Council set-up the Roadshow, a theatrical road safety education programme which toured nationally.

"From here, the City Council established a Road Safety Co-ordinating Committee which became the model used by the New Zealand Transport Agency for community road safety in New Zealand."

He says the city has continued to lead the way with the launch two years ago of New Zealand’s first Alcohol Accord to target alcohol-related inner city crime and violence, and this year Christchurch launched New Zealand’s first Transport Accord to provide easy access to a safe, reliable night-time public transport service.

"Now the city is being accredited as a World Health Organisation Safe Community – the largest city in New Zealand to achieve this international recognition.

"Tonight’s accreditation ceremony is for everyone who has ever played a role in helping to make our community safer; it is thanks to your commitment, leadership and innovation that Christchurch is joining an elite group of world-wide communities focussed on making their place safer for residents and visitors alike."

Three years ago the city launched its first community safety strategy – the Safe Christchurch Strategy. Focussed on the three key areas of injury prevention, road safety and crime prevention, Mr Parker says the city-wide Strategy has guided Christchurch towards tonight’s accreditation.

"This does not mean Christchurch is ‘perfectly safe’ but rather the community has systems and processes in place to address safety, and all sectors of the community are working together to increase the overall safety of its residents and visitors.

"Good progress has been made in all three areas of focus – road fatalities and crashes are trending down, inner city crime and violence is being kept at the lowest growth rate for a metropolitan city in New Zealand, and while some injury rates are rising, this is a positive result of a campaign to promote better reporting by minority ethnic groups."

Mr Parker says Christchurch is well on its way to achieving its aim of becoming the safest city in New Zealand.

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