Clark pledges assault on P-fuelled crimes of violence

Prime Minister Helen Clark says she is disturbed by the growth in methamphetamine-fuelled crime and has promised to divert resources towards cracking the problem.

Police say alcohol, drugs and the youth gang culture were the main reasons for a 10.2 per cent rise in violent crime reported for the year to June.

Statistics released on Monday also showed property damage offences up 15.3 per cent, dishonesty up 7.8 per cent and drug offences up 6.3 per cent.

Commissioner Howard Broad singled out methamphetamine as a driving force behind the spiralling crime rates.

He said crimes involving methamphetamine-type drugs had increased by 50 per cent.

"It's a particularly pernicious drug. It's one that very quickly causes addiction - it's one that takes an average person and makes them violent," he said.

Helen Clark said while some of the growth in crime was due to changes in the way data was collected, there were clearly problems in New Zealand society.

"Obviously there are some issues with methamphetamine-fuelled crime which is very disturbing to the community and disturbing to me, and we continue to work hard as we can to try and crack [that]."

Violent crime increases were notable in South Auckland and Helen Clark said there were "real issues" with youth gangs in some suburbs.

"It has been very worrying and there are resources going in."

Police Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls said yesterday alcohol and drugs were fuelling violent crime.

"It's binge drinking that's causing a problem. Crime scenes are littered with empty alcohol bottles," he said.

Mr Nicholls said "the LA influence" also played a part in rising violence.

He was referring to the youth gangs that operated, mainly in South Auckland, styled on Los Angeles gangs.

Mr Nicholls said the statistics were "a one-year view of crime" and did not reflect the long-term perspective.

"In 1996 there were about 482,000 crimes reported, in 2006 there were 426,000 - a reduction of about 60,000 and that's good news."

National's law and order spokesman, Simon Power, said yesterday violent crime had increased 26 per cent since Labour came to power in 1999.

"That's nearly 140 offences a day - these figures must be a serious concern for the Government. It's been too concerned with the number of people in prison rather than the reasons crime is increasing."


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