Violent offences drop despite slight rise in crime

By Kristin Edge

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Crime in Northland rose by 1.5 per cent last year with nearly 43 offences being reported to police every day across the region.

Statistics released yesterday by New Zealand Police revealed there were a total of 15,588 reported crimes in Northland in 2013, with police solving less than half the crimes - 48.1 per cent compared to 53.2 per cent in 2012. There were 15,355 crimes reported in Northland in 2012.

Northland also bucked the national trend which saw a drop in crime by 4.1 per cent last year, with 360,411 crimes across the country - 15,602 fewer than in 2012.

The good news was a 5.7 per cent drop in crime in the Far North, while there was a 6.7 per cent rise in Whangarei Kaipara, resulting in the 1.5 per cent increase overall.

While the rise was small in Northland, it was still a concern as it meant more victims in the community, Acting Northland District Commander Superintendent John Price said.

"Our focus is reducing the number of victims and ensuring that people do not become re-victimised," he said.

Much of the increase in crime can be attributed to an increase in dishonesty offending such as burglary (up 14.9 per cent), motor vehicle theft (up by 18 per cent), receiving (up by 17.3 per cent) and theft (up by 12 per cent).

Northland police had recognised this as a problem for the district and had taken measures to reduce dishonesty offending, Mr Price said.

"This is a priority for us and we are taking action to reduce burglary and theft.

"Actions include targeting our top offenders through bail checks, increased visibility of staff in areas with high numbers of burglary and theft, and rostering staff to meet demand."

Since a recent police operation targeting a crime ring in Whangarei involved in burglary and vehicle theft, there had been a "noticeable drop in burglaries in the area", he said.

While dishonesty offending increased, violent crimes and illicit drug offences have dropped.

Assaults dropped by 4.3 per cent, sexual assaults fell by 17.4 per cent, robbery decreased by 13.5 per cent, disorderly conduct dropped by 23.9 per cent and illicit drug offences fell by 26 per cent.

Last year there was an increase in sexual offending due to a small number of offenders committing several offences.

"Since then the community has been reporting this type of offending to police, which demonstrates they have trust and confidence in us to investigate thoroughly," Mr Price said.

In terms of the drop in illicit drug offences, police were targeting organised crime and drugs and are using a number of interventions on priority offenders.

Mr Price said it was pleasing to see violent offending decreased.

"Violence against any person is abhorrent and the social cost to the community is high.

"Police have placed a focus on preventing this crime through working with victims, holding offenders to account."

There were 15 cases of blackmail or extortion reported in Northland and nine cases of forgery and counterfeiting.

Of the 323 cases of obtaining benefit by deception police resolved nearly 75 per cent.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said the focus on visible frontline policing and prevention, with the right tools for the job, continued to show great results.

"Police foot patrols increased by 155 per cent over the last two years, and officers are now equipped with smartphones and tablets which allow them to input and access important information without returning to the station.

"This is delivering an extra half a million frontline police hours every year, or the equivalent of 354 additional officers," Ms Tolley said.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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