Police operational changes including a new focus on repeat victims are being lauded as behind a sharp decline in the number of burglaries and other reported crime in Hawke's Bay.
Calendar-year 2012 crime statistics released yesterday show the number of crimes in Napier, Hastings and Central Hawke's Bay dropped to 15,081 - a significant 1431 down on the 16,512 reported the previous year.
It was part of an overall 9.2 per cent cut in the number of offences reported throughout the police Eastern District, the greatest cuts coming in major dishonesty offences, burglary and theft. The combined total of 6533, comprising 4352 thefts and 2181 burglaries, was down 737 from the previous year's 7270, which included 4575 thefts and 2695 burglaries. The burglary statistics revealed a cut of more than 19 per cent, considerably better than achieved nationwide.
A minor fall came in the number of fraud offences, from 311 to 299.
There were two reported homicides, compared with five in 2011, and with figures down in almost all categories across the Eastern District, acts intended to cause injury fell from 2088 to 1892.
In other violence-related categories, abduction and harassment offences declined from 567 to 482 and robberies were down 12 from 102 to 90, but reported sex offences increased from 152 to 163.
Cuts were also seen in the numbers of drugs offences, usually discovered by police rather than reported to police. There were 739 last year, compared with 805 in 2011.
While reporting categories have changed over the years, the figures can be compared with those for the last year of the old millennium, when 24,107 offences were reported in the district, and the number of commercial and residential burglaries was about 3500, according to figures retained by Hawke's Bay Today.
Inspector Tania Kura, in her first year as commander of the new Hawke's Bay area of Napier, Hastings and CHB, was pleased with the results, but saw more room for improvement.
"We have much more opportunity now to be more proactive and to nip crime in the bud before it happens," Ms Kura said.
"New initiatives that were introduced last year mean our staff have been freed up to spend more time preventing crime and being more visible in the community."
"We now need to make the most of those opportunities and make the best use of that extra time that is now available to us," she said.
As well as the developing victim-management processes, the Eastern district has established a new file-management centre at its Napier headquarters, freeing front-line staff from "huge" amounts of paperwork, and a criminal-justice support unit to also relieve them of some of the administrative burdens.
Ms Kura said Hawke's Bay had yet to reap the full benefits of the changes, and further offence reductions were anticipated.
Nationally, reported crime was down 7.4 per cent, continuing a decline over recent years, and burglaries were down 11.1 per cent.
Police Acting Commissioner Viv Rickard said the 376,013 offences - down from 406,056 the previous year - was the lowest recorded in 24 years.