Self-defence classes a response to Auckland sex offender

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Self-defence classes are being held for women in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga following reports of sex offences in the area.

Nine victims have come forward to police, with one incident reported taking place at 3pm last Friday on a walkway off Stave Ave.

Detective Sergeant Dave Paea says the victim was grabbed from behind by a man who then touched her inappropriately over various parts of her body.

"The incident only lasted a matter of seconds but any attack of this nature can be absolutely terrifying for those involved and we're keen to hear from anyone who may have seen this."

Community Constable Don Allan says in response to public outcry, Onehunga police along with the Onehunga Business Association have organised self-defence classes for early next week.

He says about 25 people have shown interest so far, and expects that number could easily double.

"It's a good way of empowering women and the young girls so they feels safer, and it's a good way to give out advice on what they can do to be safer, and what they need to do in relation to calling emergency services," he says.

"I live in this community. To me I don't go home and forget about my role as a community constable.

"I do take ownership of what's going on -- it affects not only me at work but my neighbours and friends in the community."

The attacks have not been of a serious nature, but their frequency seems to be escalating.

Const Allan says police are concerned that the types of offending may also escalate.

"One day it won't be just grabbing, or copping a feel, [it will be] dragging women to bushes and doing something a lot more serious," he says.

"While the incidents are of a minor nature, we need to address this behaviour and identify who's responsible immediately so they can get help and prevent any further victimisation."

Women are advised not to walk alone, or if so, to carry a mobile phone with them.

Const Allan says to call 111 immediately if they are approached, because it's important for police to attend.

"Calling of 111 serves two purposes -- to get police there and to create a pattern of activity to gain intelligence from those calls," he says.

The investigation is being handled by staff from the CIB, as well as Const Allan and another member from the Onehunga policing team.

"We have previously identified a couple of boys who may be responsible, however, they haven't been positively identified by victims with good alibis at the time, so we've got good lines of inquiry, that haven't panned out to anything at this stage."

The offender is described as being light-skinned and in his mid-teens. He is said to be of a slender build and between 160 and 170cm tall.

The self-defence classes, available to women of all ages, will run both Monday April 11 and Tuesday April 12, from 5:30-7pm at 1 Pearce St.

Women will learn four stages of self-defence -- avoidance, prevention, physical techniques and aftermath.

"If we can give people the tools for them to feel more comfortable and be more vigilant, it may well help in getting this guy and/or stop someone from being his next target," says Amanda Kinzett from the Onehunga Business Association.

Police are asking anyone with information on the offender to call 111 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.