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New Initiatives To Target Crime In Wellington

New Initiatives To Target Crime In Wellington Police District

New Zealand Police Wellington News Release

2 October 2006

Greater coordination between police, partner agencies and community groups, including the targeting of at risk families, is vital in achieving long term crime reduction, said Superintendent Pieri Munro, Wellington Police District Commander.

"It's good to know that Wellington District has less crime than three years ago, but I am concerned that offending has gone up 4.7 percent in the last 12 months," Superintendent Munro said.

Figures released today show that 42,199 offences were recorded by police in the 12 months ending June 2006 - 1892 offences or 4.7 percent more than compared with the previous year. However, three years ago a total of 45,541 crimes were reported.

The biggest areas of concern this year are in violence (up 8.9 percent or 487 offences to 5988), dishonesty (up 4.1 percent or 880 offences to 22,387) and property damage (up 13.8 percent or 662 offences to 5462) - the latter mainly consisting of destructive vandalism such as tagging, graffiti, smashed letterboxes and fence palings.

Thirty eight percent of violent crime was in the family category. Serious assaults, intimidations and threats were key issues.

The number of burglaries dropped 7 percent across the district or 329 offences to 4370 offences - a massive 30.8 percent reduction on the figures three years ago.

Superintendent Munro said that while changes this year to the way police nationally record offences in the National Intelligence Application have resulted in some increased statistics, police at local level are having operational and investigative success in helping reduce crime and crashes.

"Specialist burglary squads, crime control unit operations, prompt intelligence based taskings on a daily basis, identifying and putting the pressure on known burglars, and enforcing curfew or bail conditions are really paying off," Superintendent Munro said.

"We're very encouraged at our success in reducing burglary but the increase in unlawful takings, car conversion and thefts from cars is unwelcome. Reducing these crimes are our challenge."

He said the risk of thefts from cars could be reduced if people became more security conscious and didn't leave laptop computers, digital cameras, Ipods or MP3 players and other valuables in visible and readily accessible places.

"We're working with councils and other private businesses to improve security, lighting and cameras in busy areas but ultimately it's up to individuals to be a bit smarter and more responsible about where they leave their belongings.

"CCTV and good security cameras are a marvellous investigative tool but they're not the only answer. Everyone can play a part in crime prevention."

"My officers are constantly looking for the edge on offenders, using Intelligence, legislation, DNA and fingerprint opportunities and deploying our patrols to when and where they are needed most," Superintendent Munro said.

New initiatives this year have included the Volume Crime Desk - a '24 x 7' centre operating out of Lower Hutt, providing a quicker and better service to burglary and car crime victims, particularly those whose cars have been broken into and items taken.

Instead of visiting police stations in person to report their car being broken into, victims are referred by telephone to the crime desk whose operators take the initial details, enter all the relevant information quickly in NIA - the police National Intelligence Application - computer and arrange for any follow-up forensic examination required.

"Quicker entry of crime details means that field supervisors are better placed to deal with emerging crime trends and hotspots," Superintendent Munro said. "The Crime Desk is making it easier for people to report by telephone crimes like thefts from cars. Conversely it is also contributing to a rise in some recorded offences because people previously thought twice about getting to a police station, finding a park and reporting in person a theft from a car."

He said police work hard to target patrols to key crime risk areas and acknowledge the causal connection between alcohol, drugs, dysfunctional families and crime.

Police actively enforced the Sale of Liquor Act provisions - 433 offences were recorded which was 167 more than in the corresponding period last year.

Alcolink data reveals that offenders were under the influence of alcohol in 45 percent of total crime in the district. Alcohol was also reported to be a contributing factor in 51 percent of the violence and 47 percent of the drugs and anti social behaviour offending.

"We don't have all the answers on crime. We value the partnerships we have with local councils, public sector and community groups.

"But it's clear we're going to have to work more collaboratively if we are to break the cycle of offending, particularly violence, family violence and youth offending."

Police are intending to use 10 new sworn positions, part of Government's new initiative money announced in the 2006 Budget, to work in a newly formed community engagement group.

Five of the positions will be in Kapiti Mana Area, four in Lower Hutt Area and one at Wellington District Headquarters. "It's anticipated that this group will be operating from early next year. Their focus will be on our most at risk dysfunctional families concentrating on Maori, youth offending and family violence," Superintendent Munro said.

Local Area snapshot

Lower Hutt

Lower Hutt has recorded a 2.7 percent increase in total crime - up 243 offences to 9389. This follows a 15 percent reduction in crime for the 2004/05 fiscal year.

Inspector Bruce Dunstan, Area Commander, said the 8 percent rise in violence (up 106 offences) and 83 percent increase in sexual offending (up 39 offences to 86) are the significant drivers of crime.

"The increase is a concern but some of it reflects the concerted effort by police to ensure appropriate charges are laid before the Court to mirror the seriousness of offending."

He said this is especially so in the domestic violence arenas. Reported kidnapping and intimidation charges have risen by 10.2 percent (30 offences) and 350 percent (7 offences) respectively.

"The establishment of the Family Safety Team and stronger partnerships with Women's Refuge and CYFS is ensuring a more collaborative and corroborative approach to family violence," he said.

The linkage between alcohol and violence is also being addressed in partnership with Hutt City Council and other community groups. Maori Wardens, for example, are patrolling licensed premises.

Burglars are continuing to feel the pressure and while burglaries did increase 1.8 percent (20) offences on last year, this followed a huge 40 percent reduction in the 2004/05 reporting period.

"Excellent targeting of offenders and some fantastic community support, especially through the Neighbourhood Support Groups and the community patrols in Wainuiomata, Naenae and Taita, is helping keep a lid on crime."

Kapiti Mana

Reported crime in Kapiti Mana has gone up 5.3 percent on 428 offences, but police are continuing to maintain a high clearance rate, particularly in violent crime, sexual offending and drugs and anti social offences.

"The best news is that we have dropped the number of burglaries by 3.9 percent (36 offences) to 894 offences, the lowest level in four years," said Inspector Mike Hill, acting Area Commander.

A rise in vehicle related crime - in unlawful takings, car conversions and thefts from cars is a concern. Police are targeting known vehicle crime offenders and the locations where offending occurs.

"People need to be more aware about where they leave their valuables in cars," he said. "Take your valuables with you."

A new trend is vehicle registration plates being stolen from cars and put on other vehicles - possibly to help avoid detection in service station petrol drive offs.

Minor assaults, fraud and breaches of the Liquor Act are all down.

Inspector Hill said violence remains a problem in Porirua and police are continuing to work with key partners to reducing offending in homes and on the street.

"Damage to property, often letterboxes and tagging, is an issue with young people as the culprits. Again we're working actively with others in the community to report crime when it happens and to find ways to prevent opportunities for vandalism to happen."

On the Kapiti coast violence is down but burglaries, thefts and property damage is going up. "The challenge for us is to claw back these crimes and balance that with a growing population on the Kapiti Coast."

Wairarapa

Wairarapa Area recorded a 1.4 percent rise in crime or 57 offences - the lowest total crime increase in the district. They also achieved the highest resolution rate at 54.3 percent.

Inspector John Johnston, Wairarapa Area Commander, said a focused approach targeting known criminal offenders and their families, coupled with effective partnerships with councils and community agencies is the reason for Wairarapa's success.

"Our family violence strategy supported by campaigns such as Violence Free encourages people to make complaints when offending occurs," Inspector Johnston said. "We know our at risk people and we make sure that if violence happens it's dealt with quickly and effectively."

Forty one percent of reported violence in the Wairarapa was family related.

The biggest disappointment was the 58.2 percent rise in burglaries - up 219 offences to 595 - the highest level in four years.

Juvenile offenders were responsible for the burglary spike with the Crime Control Unit running several successful operations to identify and locate the offenders.

The introduction of CCTV security systems in the Masterton CBD has been so successful that there are plans to increase the number of cameras.

"They're a very good deterrent. Liquor bans in the CBD are also beneficial."

Upper Hutt

Upper Hutt Police would like to see liquor bans in the central business district to help deter violence and disorder happening on the streets.

Inspector Brett Kane, Area Commander, said submissions for bans have been made to the Upper Hutt Council's long term community plan.

"We need to find as many ways as possible to peg back the unacceptable rise in violent crime," he said.

Violent crime in Upper Hutt went up 10.4 percent or 59 offences to 625 offences in the last 12 months. Police say family violence accounted for 27 percent of the violent offending.

Police also investigated 41 reported violent attacks at Rimutaka Prison.

"The links between alcohol and crime are an issue for us," Inspector Kane said. "Thirty four percent of people we dealt with had drunk alcohol before offending.

"We focusing effort on the CBD especially on Friday and Saturday nights when people gather outside bars."

Total crime in Upper Hutt has risen one percent in the last four years.

Wellington City Area

There's less reported crime in Wellington City Area than there was four years ago, said Inspector Peter Cowan, Wellington City Area Commander.

Total crime rose 4.7 percent or 721 offences in the last 12 months with property damage and violence being the main contributors.

A total of 16,178 offences were recorded - 11.3 percent less than in the 2002/03 reporting period.

"We are concerned about the 10.8 percent rise in violent crime in the last 12 months, particularly in assaults, intimidation and threats and robberies."

He said operations like Typhoon are targeting crime in the city, particularly that caused by youth gangs.

Burglary dropped by nearly 30 percent in the last 12 months - down 559 offences to 1339. Reported burglaries have halved in the last four years.

"We've had a concerted effort by Intel, our specialist burglary squad and a team approach to this offending," he said.

ENDS

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