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Waikato District sees small increase in crime

Waikato District sees small increase in crime

The Waikato District experienced a 1.9% increase in total recorded crime for the 2013/14 year. Waikato Police District Commander Superintendent Bruce Bird says "Obviously it's not the picture we'd like to see - we're committed to reducing crime further every year. This level of victimisation is unacceptable and not something we can get complacent about."

"However, it is important to recognise that as a District we set the bar exceptionally high - in 20012/13 Waikato experienced a reduction in crime by 12.0%. This reduction followed some major changes to the District to better align to Prevention First, which was launched in December 2011 as the new national operating strategy for New Zealand Police."

"Overall, we're still trending in the right direction" Mr Bird adds. "Crime has tapered off considerably in the last 10-15 years. In 1995 there were 40,627 total recorded crimes in the Waikato. This past year there were 31,385 recorded crimes despite there being 60,000 more people living here."

"Some of the areas which did see a reduction this year included homicide and related offences which dropped by 16.7% and public order offences which decreased by 34%. It should also be noted that the Waikato East Area achieved an overall reduction in crime of 3.1%.

"We were initially surprised to learn of the 32% increase in reported sexual assaults in the Waikato over the past year. We interrogated our data and discovered that a significant portion of this increase relates to alleged offences against children."

"It's an uncomfortable reality but we need to recognise that lifting the lid on this sort of offending, which has historically been shrouded in secrecy, is a positive step. The more people who come forward to report sexual offending against the youngest members of our communities, most of whom are incapable of protecting themselves or reporting it, the more that can be done to help them."

"We also believe that the increase can largely be attributed to the early intervention work of our specialised Child Protection Teams (11 new staff members in total) which were established within the last year. These teams are co-located with Child, Youth and Family in several locations around the Waikato and are getting involved with more families at the earliest possible opportunity."

"We've also had a good look at what's happening out in the western areas of the Waikato, where crime has risen by 9.7% overall. Inspector Chris Page, Area Commander for West Waikato says "This is largely the result of an increase in theft, mainly in the Huntly area. It is a challenging area for us and we have a Neighbourhood Policing Team working proactively with that community, focusing on the issues that drive crime. This is a longer term plan designed to achieve a sustainable reduction in crime."

Mr Bird says "Despite the slight increase in several crime types this year, I feel 100% confident in saying that Waikato is just as safe a place to live as it was a year ago. We know we need to continue to innovate to make sustained reductions in crime and that is exactly what we are doing, along with our partner agencies and organisations who are just as committed."

"The Police can't do it alone and is encouraging to see some of our rural communities recognising this and really stepping up. Te Kuiti and Paeroa for example, are leading some fantastic preventative initiatives to keep their residents engaged and safe. Similarly, it is heartening to see the Mayor of Hamilton Julie Hardaker throwing a lot of support around the Citysafe initiatives and Morrinsville fashion designer Annah Stretton leading the Reclaim another Woman (RAW) initiative to support victims of domestic violence. Maori Wardens, Community Patrols New Zealand and Neighbourhood Support Groups too continue to play an extremely valuable role in the Waikato.

"On an Individual level, it is imperative that Waikato residents take some personal responsibility to reduce opportunities for criminals. As in recent years, dishonesty offences continue to make up a large portion of crime in the Waikato. This sort of crime is largely opportunistic and can often be prevented by simply remembering to lock up a bicycle for example, or refraining from showcasing a new motorbike or lawn mover on the front lawn in full view of passersby. And if you don't already, get to know your neighbours and record the serial numbers and images of your valuables on the Operation SNAP database."


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