Violence and drug-related offences are largely responsible for increased crime rates, according to 2009 crime statistics released by police today.

The figures show a 4.6 per cent increase in recorded crime in 2009, with 451,405 offences recorded last year compared to 431,383 in 2008.

Police Minister Judith Collins said the figures showed the scale of the problem New Zealand faced.

"In the 18 months that I have been police minister I have been shocked at the level of violent and anti-social behaviour in our society," Ms Collins said.

"There is a section of our community that has no respect for other people and no respect for the law. We are seeing it in the frequent attacks on police and innocent members of the public.

"The crime figures released today show that in areas where the Government has concentrated resources and police are trialling new approaches to policing, crime statistics are starting to show improvement."

Assistant Police Commissioner Grant Nicholls said while the figures showed an increase in crime, the police resolution rate, at 47.8 per cent, was the highest it had ever been.

"We're disappointed that crime has gone up, but are particularly pleased with the resolution rate we've achieved," Mr Nicholls said.

Violent offending continued to be a concern, Mr Nicholls said, with a 9.2 per cent increase to 65,465 offences being recorded.

The recorded homicide offences jumped from 23 to 134, with 65 recorded murders in 2009 compared to 13 in 2008. The increase in violent crime was driven largely by family violence, which increased 18.6 per cent (5061 offences), Mr Nicholls said.

"Family violence is unacceptable in any form and communities are showing their intolerance to it.

"Public safety is a high priority for us; working with communities and other agencies is vital in breaking the cycle of violence."

The 23 cases of sexual offending increased by 0.6 per cent, less than the 1.1-per cent increase in the population, however Mr Nicholls said police knew not all incidents of sexual offending were being reported.

Dishonesty offences, which made up about half of all offences, increased by 2.6 per cent.

New drug offending increased by 19.9 per cent, which Mr Nicholls said reflected the greater focus on methamphetamine.

Cannabis offences were responsible for the largest increase within drugs and anti-social offences, up 20.7 per cent.

Breaches of liquor bans continued to rise with 11,663 offences in 2009 up 21.2 per cent from 2008, and recorded increases in nine of the 12 districts.

"Alcohol misuse remains a key aggravator of offending and victimisation, and a significant driver of police resources," Mr Nicholls said.

"We are putting significant effort into reducing alcohol and drug related harm including enforcing liquor bans, operating mobile and compulsory breath-testing, running controlled purchase operations and taking more enforcement applications to the Liquor Licensing Authority."

Labour law and order spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said the increase showed National's law and order policies had come to nothing.

"The John Key Government has now become the government of excuses on law and order issues," Mr Cosgrove said.

"A staggering increase of 25 per cent in the number of murders and 9.2 per cent in violent crime in 2009, National's first full year in office, is incredibly embarrassing for John Key and frightening for Kiwis who put their faith in him."

Mr Cosgrove said the real tragedy in terms of violent crime was that the blowout during National's first year followed years of low or even negative growth in overall crime statistics.

"Labour's law and order programme, particularly the funding of 1250 more police over its final three years in office, was having a real impact on crime statistics."

- NZPA