Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Burglaries, robbery, assaults drive up crime rate

Ram raid burglary at Dargaville Honda Motorcycles earlier this month. Northern Advocate photograph by Michael Cunningham.
Ram raid burglary at Dargaville Honda Motorcycles earlier this month. Northern Advocate photograph by Michael Cunningham.

A surge in people falling victim to burglaries, robbery and assaults are behind an increase in reported crime in New Zealand over the past year.

The official crime statistics for the year ending August were released today, and showed 12,529 more victims than the year before.

The increase equates to a 4.8 per cent rise in crime.

It's more bad news for Police Minister Judith Collins after last month's crime statistics showed a 2.3 per cent increase in crime in the year to July.

Collins - who recently admitted there aren't enough police officers and that needed to change - said burglaries continued to be the driving factor behind the worsening crime rate.

Prime Minister John Key has indicated police numbers will increase, but discussions around how many extra officers will be needed are ongoing.

"Police are continuing to place a significant focus on burglaries with the new policy of full attendance at dwelling burglaries so the public can now expect either a constabulary or scene-of-crime officer to attend within a reasonable time," Collins said today.

"This shows that police are serious about tackling burglary and also sends a clear message to offenders. However, as the policy only went live on 29 August, it will likely take until December to see what change this policy will have."

The Statistics New Zealand crime figures released today show:

• There were 71,439 victimisations related to burglaries - a 15.4 per cent increase from the year ended August last year.

Robbery, extortion and related offences also surged by 15.4 per cent, assault victimisations by 8.5 per cent, and sexual assault by 2.6 per cent.

• Victimisations related to abduction and kidnapping fell by 5 per cent, and theft and related offences dropped by 1 per cent.

A victimisation is defined as "one person experiencing one type of crime".

Labour's Police spokesman Stuart Nash said the front line cops promised by Collins had failed to materialise.

"There were over 9500 more burglaries, almost 4000 more assaults, and nearly 500 more robberies over the last year...the only number that isn't increasing is the amount of front line police officers on the beat.

"At a time when the Police Workplace survey states that over 55 per cent of all police think that their work-related stress is unacceptably high and almost 60 per cent state that they don't believe the police are delivering on the promises they make to the public, there is only one answer to the ever-increasing rates of crime - more police. Now."

Police Minister Judith Collins is in discussion with Prime Minister John Key to increase Police officer numbers. NZ Herald photo by Steven McNicholl.
Police Minister Judith Collins is in discussion with Prime Minister John Key to increase Police officer numbers. NZ Herald photo by Steven McNicholl.

Recent polling indicates New Zealand First could hold the balance of power at next year's election and leader Winston Peters has said a sizeable increase in police numbers will be a bottom line.

Peters said an acceptable number would be between 1000 and 2000 extra police officers rolled out over a number of years.

In March, the Herald's Hitting Home series revealed that 164 burglaries went unsolved each day in the year to December 3 - a resolution rate of just 9.3 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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