Crime rate falls to 29-year low

Police commissioner Mike Bush.
Police commissioner Mike Bush.

The 2013 recorded crime rate was the lowest in 29 years, police say.

Statistics New Zealand Criminal figures for the year showed offences dropped by 4.1 per cent in the last calendar year, with 15,602 fewer crimes recorded last year than in 2012.

Graphics - NZ crime rates:

Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush said the 2013 result is the lowest crime figure in 29 years.

"We're delighted with the 4.1 per cent drop," Mr Bush said.

"We are deploying staff more efficiently and proactively to ensure police are in the right place at the right time to prevent crime from occurring."

Nine of the twelve police districts recorded decreases in recorded crime but three were up.

Auckland and Wellington Districts recorded the biggest reductions at 9.9 per cent, followed by Bay of Plenty at 7.4 per cent and Southern at 6.6 per cent.

Recorded crime in the Canterbury district fell by 5.6 per cent, reversing increases that occurred when the Christchurch rebuild began.

"The results in Canterbury are particularly satisfying. The significant drop in recorded crime in the district shows we've maintained the positive gains we made in the post-earthquake environment through proactive policing and a strong focus on crime prevention," Mr Bush said.

Three districts had a rise in recorded crime. Eastern recorded a 3.4 per cent rise, Central's crime rate rose by 1.6 per cent while Northland's grew by 1.5 per cent.

In terms of criminal categories dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons dropped by 23 per cent, public order offences reduced by 15.7 per cent and property damage and environmental pollution offences were down 6.8 per cent.

Sexual assault offences rose by 11.6 per cent last year but Mr Bush believed that was likely to be due to increased reporting.

"We know that sexual violence is under-reported, and we are heartened that more victims of this type of crime are coming forward," Mr Bush said.

There was also a 22.7 per cent drop in illicit drug offences in the 2013 calendar year. Most of this reduction was in cannabis cultivation and possession.

There was a 59 per cent increase in the import or export illicit drugs offence category.

Police said that was the result of their targeted campaign against organised crime groups that control large parts of the New Zealand methamphetamine drug trade.

"Our intelligence indicates that the price of methamphetamine remains high but steady which indicates that supply is stable," Mr Bush said.

"Unfortunately methamphetamine is not going away. Police will continue to commit resources to disrupt supply and reduce the harm this drug causes."

Mr Bush said the 2013 calendar year recorded crime statistics were an important indicator that Police's Prevention First strategy was working.

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.

Southland

The crime rate in Southland dropped last year, falling by almost 1000 reported crimes.

Crime fell by 12.4 per cent in the 2013 calendar year, according to figures released by Statistics New Zealand today.

The number of recorded offences dropped from 7519 in 2012 to 6587 in 2013.

The resolution rate for the region also remained above the national average, sitting at 54.7 per cent.

Since 2010 crime has decreased by 25 per cent which equates to 2203 fewer offences, Southland Area Commander Inspector Lane Todd said.

"The results achieved over the last three years are outstanding and the police team continue to be very proud," he said.

"We know we have further work to do, and remain fully committed to preventing crime in Southland. The last three years' results clearly demonstrate that our communities are safer and are feeling safer."

Theft and related offences decreased by 11.6 per cent, down 219 offences.

However, burglary offences increased by 11 per cent, up by 80, from 2012. The increase was due to a rise in reported offences in Invercargill.

Property damage decreased by 21.7 per cent, down by 313 incidents, and public order offences such as disorderly or offensive conduct decreased by 21.9 per cent, down by 204.

Illicit drug offences decreased by 5.3 per cent, down by 19.

Dunedin

Crime in the Dunedin area has dropped by 2.8 per cent, according to figures released by Statistics New Zealand today.

There were 300 fewer victims of crime in 2013 than in 2012, the figures show.

"The results reinforce the fact that the wider Dunedin area is one of the safest places in the country to live and visit," Relieving Dunedin Clutha Waitaki Area Commander Inspector Jason Guthrie said.

Reductions in theft (-7.0% or 221 fewer victims), property damage (-8.1% or 190 fewer victims), and public order offending (-7.1% or 89 fewer victims), are particularly pleasing, he said.

"But the job is not done."

Northland

Crime in Northland was up by 1.5 per cent in 2013, according to figures released today.

A total of 15,588 offences were recorded for 2013, compared to 15,355 for 2012, Statistics New Zealand figures recorded.

While the increase was small, 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 by 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 beat 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.

Otago Rural area

Crime in rural Otago has dropped by 6.1 per cent, according to new figures released today.

Total recorded crime in the region, including the local authority areas of Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago, continued its downward trend in 2013, Statistics New Zealand figures showed.

Reported offences dropped by 6.1 per cent in the 2013 calendar year, while the resolution rate in the Otago Rural area was 57.5 per cent.

In total, there were 3013 recorded offences in the region in 2013, down from 3210 in 2012.

"These figures continue to build on the crime reductions made over recent years," Inspector Andrew Burns Acting Area Commander for Otago Rural said. The number of offences classed as acts intending to cause injury decreased, dropping 6.2 per cent, (365 down from 389) in 2013.

Theft and related offences decreased by 5.1 per cent (804 down from 847), and offences related to property damage continued to decline, down 7.8 per cent (497 down from 539) from the previous year.

Sexual assault and related offences (up nine offences or 64.3 per cent) and robbery, extortion and related offences (up by two incidents or 66.7 per cent) both showed significant percentage increases on the previous year but the actual number of offences was low, Mr Burns said.

There was also a slight increase in illicit drug offences, which rose by 3.3 per cent. Mr Burns attributed the rise to the successful termination of Operation Viking in the Wanaka sub-area.

Bay of Plenty

Recorded crime in the western Bay of Plenty continued to fall in 2013, dropping by 4.2 per cent, according to figures released today.

The decrease followed a drop of 10.8 per cent in 2012, and 13.8 per cent in 2011, Statistics New Zealand showed.

Area Commander for Western Bay of Plenty Inspector Clifford Paxton praised the results.

"I find the 19.1 per cent reduction in burglary particularly pleasing as this type of offending is extremely invasive and it has a significant impact on our communities and their feelings of safety," he said.

"It is an area of offending that can and does fluctuate reasonably frequently and it is important that everyone remains vigilant and takes steps to keep themselves and their property is safe, notifying us of any suspicious activity."

Sexual assaults fell by 23.7 per cent.

Robberies rose by five more incidents, which Mr Paxton described as "disappointing", but vowed to "continue to work hard to prevent this type of offending".

"Overall it is heartening to see some good reductions during 2013. A lot of people are working hard to make the western Bay of Plenty safer place and it's great to see their actions are making a difference."

- APNZ

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