What a disaster police have on their hands after a damning report revealed yesterday police have altered official crime statistics to make hundreds of burglaries disappear.
The report, revealed by the Herald on Sunday, shows five police staff in Counties Manukau are being sanctioned over the incident which saw about 700 burglaries instead recorded as more minor crimes or just "incidents", which are not counted in crime statistics.
Police Minister Anne Tolley is reportedly "extremely disappointed" and has quickly reassured the public this is an isolated incident.
Police have not said why the statistics were altered but say the staff were not under instruction to do so. Ms Tolley has also denied they were under any political pressure to reduce burglary statistics.
The punishment for the staff involved is confidential because of employment laws but it's my view they should be sacked.
They have not only done incredible damage to the police reputation but they have undermined the suffering of the burglary victims.
The assurances from Ms Tolley are pleasing as in Rotorua we have crowed for years about our big reductions in burglaries.
The most recent statistics revealed on April 1 this year showed there were 1331 burglaries in the previous year, down from 1477 the year prior.
The police should however be mindful that perception isn't everything - the truth is.
Over recent years, it's been policy in some policing districts to keep detailed information about crimes from the public to make the community feel safer.
Such policies are only burying your head in the sand and are not fair on any community.