ENSURING Himatangi Beach remains a safe environment for everybody’s enjoyment is the goal of Senior Constable Chris Barclay, who will be based at the popular holiday resort for much of the summer as part of Operation Beach.
The Foxton community constable is part of a three-officer team acting as designated beach patrol units operating at the Himatangi, Foxton and Waitarare Beaches from now until late February.
Police have successfully run Operation Beach since 2004 with the assistance of local beach wardens, surf lifesavers and other community groups, but this is the first time an officer has been appointed solely to Himatangi Beach.
“The problem is that people come to the beach, park their cars and the kids get out and run to the sea, because that’s what they are there for,” said Mr Barclay, “but unfortunately, there are idiots who want to show off in front of them and this becomes the gravest area of concern.”
Mr Barclay said although a police presence tended to “tie off” quite a bit of anti-social behaviour he was hoping that visitors, especially those using ATVs and quad and two-wheel motorcycles, would drive carefully and responsibly on the beach.
“Four-wheelers are the biggest problem as far as injuries go and people must realise that the beach is a road and vehicles using it must be registered. Any behaviour which is inconsiderate, careless or dangerous will be dealt with appropriately, which means that drivers will be prosecuted and vehicles may be seized.”
He said the police were not there to stop people having fun, but the law requires helmets to be worn while riding quad bikes and “it is strongly recommended that this practice be adopted as it will be a focus of beach policing this summer”.
“The whole idea of the police being here is to provide a presence, and if that stops people from acting the goat, being stupid and getting hurt, then that’s fine,” said Mr Barclay.
Himatangi Beach Holiday Park proprietors, Margaret and Dennis Penney, are delighted at the extension of Operation Beach to the town and were looking forward to working with Mr Barclay.
“People’s behaviour has improved over the past few years,” said Mr Penney, “but there are still the hoons who interrupt day visitors on the beach. Chris’s presence can only make it safer for families out to enjoy the beach experience.”