Crime rises as foot patrols cut by 10pc

By Laurel Stowell -
Community Constable Keith Butters is one of those most likely to be seen on Whanganui streets. PHOTO/ FILE
Community Constable Keith Butters is one of those most likely to be seen on Whanganui streets. PHOTO/ FILE

Fewer police foot patrols have been done in Whanganui during the last year - but that's not why some crime figures are up, acting Area Commander Neil Forlong says.

Information obtained under an Official Information Act request made by the Labour Party says there were 10 per cent fewer foot patrols in the Whanganui police area in the year to June than in the previous year.

There were 2854 foot patrols in the year to June 2015, and 2568 in the next year, a drop of 286.

Foot patrols have uniformed police about in the street. Area police leaders decide how often and where they should happen, and that can vary day to day, Mr Forlong said.

The patrols are usually used in high risk areas, where they will have most effect in reducing crime. Foot patrols are also done by community patrol groups.

"We want our people to be in the right place, at the right time doing the right thing.

This means that foot patrols may have reduced in favour of mobile patrols, road policing, static patrols and liquor licence checks," Mr Forlong said.

Labour is campaigning for election and says it will fund an extra 1000 police in New Zealand during its first term in office.

Leader Andrew Little said that would bring the police to population ratio back below 1 in 500, as it was in 2008. The party claims crime has increased because police are underfunded and stretched too thinly.

The party used the Official Information Act to ask about crime statistics for the Whanganui police area. The figures show drug supply crime up 61 per cent, drug use crime up 47 per cent, robbery up 50 per cent and vehicle theft up 19 per cent.

Police didn't believe the increase in crime could be attributed to fewer foot patrols, Mr Forlong said.

"There are many drivers of crime and it would be unwise to try to attribute it to a single factor."

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