More investigators and better communication between police and CYF are the likely reasons more sexual assaults are being reported in the Bay, police say.



Latest figures show overall crime dropped 1398 offences - or 8.8 per cent - and in nearly every category except sexual assaults, where there were 36 or 53.7 per cent more reported in the 2010-2011 financial year compared with the previous year.



Reports of theft, robbery, violent, fraud and drug offences have all dipped, including murder and intent to kill related offences which dropped 40 per cent. The resolution rate from all crime is well above the average at 59.1 per cent.



Western Bay of Plenty Inspector Mike Clement said the rise of reported sexual assaults (67 offences to 103) was likely a result of the Child Protection Protocol (CPP), which came into effect on April 15, 2010.

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This means there is inter-agency consultation at the time a report of suspected serious child abuse is received by police or CYF, whereas previously, consultation may have not have occurred until a detailed complaint had been received.



"At the same time, police have been more proactive around encouraging people to report suspected child abuse," Mr Clement said.



"An extra two investigators have been added to the Child Protection Team."



Mr Clement said generally a great deal of child abuse went unreported.



"People reporting abuse is a positive thing, as it mean support can be put in place for the victim and the offender can be held accountable with the hope that it will prevent them re-offending.



"Police have invested a significant amount of resource into improving our service to victims - including our most vulnerable victims such as children - and an increase in reporting and this statistics increase possibly reflects improved confidence in the police".



Sexual abuse counsellor advocate Denise McEnteer said victims often chose not to report sexual assault to police because it was usually "too traumatic" to go through the judicial system.



"I'm wondering if people are feeling more confident to report these crimes because there is a lot more media about it now. People are more familiar with where they can get help," she said.



Of the rise in reported cases, she said: "I would say that's quite a compliment to the police."



The Rape Crisis centre for New Zealand stated that last year only nine per cent of sexual assaults were reported to police. This year that figure rose to 10 per cent, Ms McEnteer said.



"That's still just the tip of the iceberg."



The only other category to show an increase was miscellaneous offences, which rose by 19.4 per cent. These offences involved breaches of rules or usually other minor judicial offences.



Mr Clement said police were were also targeting other areas.



"We set ourselves a target of reducing dishonesty offending by five per cent. That includes theft, fraud and burglary. Burglary offending reduced by 6.1 per cent, that equates to 111 fewer victims of burglary. In total, dishonesty offending was reduced by 6.6 per cent or 495 crimes.



"We have set ourselves the same target for this current year."



Drug offending reduced by 20 per cent, or 249 crimes, but Mr Clement said police wanted to warn against complacency.



"Police rely heavily on members of the community reporting drug dealing and to identify those who are making money and to secure their assets."



Tauranga National MP Simon Bridges said the figures showed the fight against crime was working.



"However there is still work to be done in the Bay of Plenty, particularly around sexual assaults and related offences which increased. Local police are working hard to reduce this through policing resources and community input," Mr Bridges said.



"It is great news for the Bay of Plenty that recorded crime has dropped."



The Eastern Bay of Plenty was the only area in the wider Bay of Plenty to record an increase in reported crime, by 7.8 per cent. Rotorua experienced a drop of 5.6 per cent and Taupo a drop of 3.8 per cent.



A total of 38,175 offences were recorded in the Bay of Plenty, a decrease of 4.8 per cent or 1904 offences down on the previous year.



Bay of Plenty police district commander Superintendent Glenn Dunbier said the figures showed inroads in some key crime areas but also reflected ongoing work to be done.



Mr Dunbier said family violence was still under-reported and burglaries remained a priority.



Mr Dunbier said he was please to see a decrease in disorder, with tools such as liquor bans having a positive impact on policing in central business districts.



If anyone sees something suspicious in their local community, they are asked to contact their local police or provide information anonymously through the independent Crimestoppers line 0800 555 111.