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Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Crime stats: more victims, more violence, more burglaries

Crime is on the up in New Zealand, with latest figures showing an increase in burglaries, assaults, abductions and sex offences over the past year - resulting in more 13,350 victims.

According to police crime statistics published yesterday, in the year ending September 30 the number of victimisations in New Zealand rose 5.4 per cent from 262,748 to 276,098.

Of those victims 50,031 were assaulted, 5508 sexually assaulted, 360 abducted or kidnapped, 3588 robbed and 72,780 were the victim of a burglary.

The police annual report, released last year, also showed that the year ending June 30, the total crime rate was 844 crimes per 10,000 people, up from 818 the previous year.

The rate of violent crime also increased from 98 offences per 10,000 people last year, to 105 this year.

Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard told the Herald there was no one reason why crime had increased.

"It is difficult to fully understand what is behind an increase in crime, and there is no one factor that is universal across all criminal offending," he said.

"Some increases in crime could relate to offenders who simply take any opportunity when it is presented to them to commit a crime, for example some crime is driven by commodity such as tobacco and some crime by factors such as alcohol.

"Other factors could include changes to an individual's personal situation which could include losing a job, a sudden reduction in household income, an addiction to drugs or gambling, or a change to the socio-economic status of an area."

Rickard said police worked closely with their specific community "to understand their needs and try to put in place measures and initiatives to reduce and prevent crime".

"Every day, our staff on the front line are working closely with members of our community to ensure they can be safe and feel safe. This will include introducing initiatives and measures specific to their area to ensure what is implemented is as effective as possible," he said.

"However, in some instances, such as the significant increase in burglary offences nationwide, police may implement a national initiative for all districts to try and address these issues such as the police's expectation to attend all dwelling burglaries."

Police announced in August that they would be sending officers to every reported house burglary.

Rickard said that a full review of the initiative was not expected until December, however the latest statistics showed that in the first month after change the number of burglaries reported decreased by 290.

While that was promising, the increase in the number of victims was concerning.

"Especially as this means there are more members of our community becoming victims of crime," Rickard told the Herald.

"Under the Prevention First operating model, we have placed greater emphasis on victims and these statistics mean staff have the most up-to-date data to inform our work.

"While we do acknowledge this increase in the crime statistics, our staff are working hard to turn this trend around.

"We are committed to reducing crime and victimisation, and ensuring that New Zealanders are safe and feel safe in their communities."

Rickard said each of the 12 police districts in New Zealand was "slightly different" and there was no one-size-fits-all response to crime.

"Each leadership team continues to assess the needs of their respective communities and will take the appropriate steps to address the individual needs," he explained.

"This will take into account the figures and trends shown in these statistics."

Alongside the police statistics, the Better Public Service results were released by the State Services Commission showing that total crime had increased 1.4 per cent in the last year, violent crime was up 3.2 per cent and the reoffending rate for New Zealand's criminals was up by 0.9 per cent.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said despite the increase, total crime had actually decreased "significantly" since 2011.

But this year's spike highlighted that more work needed to be done to "drive it down further".

"The Justice Sector's BPS results for the quarter ending June 2016 released today show increases in all four measures, although all remain down on 2011 levels," Adams said.

"While there has been great progress in the BPS results since 2011, it's become clear that the easy gains in reducing crime are over and we need to continue to develop new ways to bring crime down further.

"Across the board, we've been challenging ourselves to think differently about how we tackle some of the complex issues facing our justice system.

Adams said the Government had made a "strong commitment to crime prevention and reduction, better supporting police and supporting victims".

"We will continue to focus on addressing crime in all its forms in New Zealand," she said.

More injuries on Kiwi roads

The police annual report also showed that the number of fatal and serious injuries caused by road crashes rose from 4.4 per 10,000 Kiwis to 4.6.

There was also an increase from 5.9 hospitalisations per 10,000 Kiwis to 6.2.

When it came to drink driving, a new measure shows that the median breath alcohol level of people caught was 650mg per litre. The legal level is 400mg per litre.

Nearly half of all road users travelled above the 50km/h speed limit, a number that has decreased from 52 per cent to 46 per cent.

The number of road users breaking the 100km/h speed limit rose slightly from 22 per cent to 23 per cent.

Both speed figures were declining since 2011.

Hitting Home changes the way police respond to burglaries

The report also celebrated Operation Resolve, an initiative set up in direct response to Hitting Home, a series published in the Herald earlier this year.

Our investigation revealed that more than 90 per cent of burglaries were going unsolved in New Zealand each day.

As a direct result of the series, Auckland City Police dedicated resources to tackling the issue in the district in March.

"Operation Resolve has involved 18 staff and, as at the end of May 2016 has resulted in: 71 arrests, 32 new burglary charges, 43 arrest warrants actioned, 24 receiving stolen property charges laid, 14 vehicle related charges laid, 28 other charges laid."

-Additional reporting Morgan Tait

- NZ Herald

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