Todd McClay: United approach curbing crime rates

By Todd McClay

Crime rates have dropped consecutively over the last two years in Rotorua and this is something our community can be extremely proud of.

It has happened because the police do an excellent job on our behalf under extremely difficult circumstances and because more people have decided to step up and take personal responsibility in our city.

In 2010-2011 recorded crime dropped by an impressive five per cent in Rotorua followed by an equally important 3.4 per cent drop in 2011-2012. This is more than an eight per cent decrease on the 2009 crime rates in and around our police district during the last two years. For this we owe thanks to the men and women of the Rotorua police for working hard to keep our community safe.

As we go into our fourth year in Government, our focus will continue to be on increasing frontline policing and crime prevention. Last week Police Minister Anne Tolley announced police foot patrols had increased by 70 per cent nationwide between 2011 and 2012. At home in the Bay of Plenty there was an almost 100 per cent increase with an extra 1914 officers patrolling our streets.

These increases are a result of staff being deployed more strategically and in areas and at times when police know there is a greater risk of crime taking place.

This smarter approach, with the right people in the right places at the right times, means officers are more visible and better able to prevent crime.

Under the Prime Minister's Better Public Service targets, the Government's goal is to reduce the total recorded crime rate by 15 per cent, the recorded violent crime rate by 20 per cent, the youth crime rate by five per cent and the re-offending rate by 25 per cent by 2017. Achieving these targets will mean 112,000 fewer crimes between now and 2017 - and thousands fewer victims.

The justice system needs greater focus on the victim with legislation in place to ensure their rights. Already we've introduced an Offender Levy to fund more services and support for victims of crime, and legislation that will reduce unnecessary parole hearings and the stress they cause those who are affected by crime often through no fault of their own.

We've also delivered on an election promise to better protect the public from serious sexual or violent offenders through the Three Strikes law for our most serious repeat offenders and the Public Safety (Public Protection Orders) Bill, which will allow the High Court to detain these offenders where they present unnecessary and avoidable risks to the public.

In Rotorua we have a new support service for victims with the opening of a Sensible Sentencing Trust branch in the city. I have worked closely with the trust's leader, Garth McVicar, in the last few years and I am grateful for the work he and his staff do to protect and assist victims of crimes and their families. In particular I wish to recognise the commitment locally to the rights of victims by Peter and Councillor Maggie Bentley in heading up the Rotorua branch. They are brave members of our community, Peter having himself been a victim of frightening violence in his home.

The huge increase in foot patrols, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, the Prevention First Strategy and the 600 additional frontline officers delivered by the Government are all playing an important part in our fight against crime.

Families deserve to feel safe in their homes and communities.

Through the Government's comprehensive programme to protect communities and our continued support of the excellent job done by our police, together this can be achieved.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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