Nelson City Council has confirmed CCTV cameras are part of ongoing plans for the brand-new pop-up playground after police were called to various incidents at the city centre amenity over the weekend.
The Riverside Youth Pop-up Park on Halifax St, which opened on Saturday, features a pump track, basketball half-court and imagination playground for younger children. Hundreds of families made use of the new central city spot throughout the weekend.
But the immense popularity came with problems as reports of intimidation, bullying and assault soon began to surface.
Naomi Smith was at the playground with her partner and three children on Sunday and says about 50 kids were all trying to use the pump track.
Naomi says a teenager threatened to hit her seven-year-old daughter with his scooter if she didn’t get off the pump track.
“The kids felt really threatened, there was a group of teenagers who were taking control and telling the others to f**k off and get off the track. Why should we just up and leave? It’s not our fault these kids are the way they are.
“We felt pretty frustrated to be honest, teenagers being teenagers are not going to listen to someone else’s parents,” she says.
Naomi says the police turned up in response to another incident and ended up speaking with all the older children after complaints from the younger kids about the bullying.
“The police ended up talking with all of them and told them ‘if you’re not happy, go play at the skate parks or other places where you can go really fast’ and just reminded them to be mindful that it’s for everyone. Once police spoke to them, they bucked their ideas up.”
A police spokesperson says they were called to a separate incident on Saturday where a group of people, including both adults and youths, were arguing, with one person reportedly being assaulted.
“When police hear about incidents such as these all staff are made aware so they can actively patrol the area.”
They say there are no CCTV cameras that monitor the playground currently.
The spokesperson says, on the same day, they were also called to a report of a fight on Rutherford St but the group had left before police arrived.
“While these incidents will be concerning for the Nelson community, we want to reassure locals that police are responding to incidents as they arise and that there has been no trend that indicates youth crime is increasing in Nelson,” says the spokesperson.
Naomi says, hopefully, once the initial novelty of the playground dies down it will quieten down and there will be room for all ages to enjoy it.
“It is an amazing place, it’s well thought out, well made, and great for all ages. The kids definitely want to go back there; they just don’t want to go when the big kids are around.”
Nelson City Council’s group manager environmental management, Clare Barton, says council is aware that police were called to an incident that involved both children and adults but would not comment further as it was a police matter.
She says that prior to the park opening council officers approved the installation of two cameras with a module that would link the CCTV for the space with police.
“The cameras will be installed as soon as possible, and there will be signage in place to make park users aware that they are operating. This is a park for everyone in Nelson and we ask that people respect the park and other users.”