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Forget 36,000 fewer crimes; what about graffiti

3 March 2005

Never mind 36,000 fewer crimes; what about the graffiti?

The Police Minister says National is trying to undermine public confidence in the New Zealand Police with its mean-spirited attack on the official crime statistics.

"Instead of congratulating the men and women who have achieved the quite extraordinary result of reducing crime by 700 offences a week over the last year, National's Law and Order spokesman appears obsessed with comparing graffiti rates in Canterbury and Auckland," George Hawkins said today.

"Given his intemperate, misleading and just plain wrong claims about police work over the past six months, I can understand Mr Ryall's frustration at being presented with the biggest drop in recorded crime since 1970.

"What I cannot understand is the desperate lengths he is resorting to in order to make New Zealanders feel ashamed of their police and unsafe in their communities.

"Instead of congratulating police on reducing crime to the lowest level in 23 years, Mr Ryall is attempting to sow fear and paranoia in the minds of New Zealanders.

"This Government is well aware of the growth in 'new drug' offences and has made the resources available for the police to confront the problem, in the same manner that the road toll - what Mr Ryall dismisses as 'minor traffic offences' - has been tackled (second lowest road toll in 40 years) and the burglary rate has been reduced (from a high of 96,000 in 1992 to under 58,000 in 2004).

"During this financial year the Government has put $39 million into the fight against methamphetamine. Some 280,000 hours of police time will be dedicated to smashing the drug networks, not to mention the work being carried out in conjunction with Police, by Customs and ESR. Rather than being terrified to unlock their doors, as Mr Ryall would like them to feel, the public has every reason to feel confident police are confronting and overcoming this challenge.

"With 36,000 fewer crimes last year New Zealand is indisputably a safer place to live in. On behalf of the Government, I thank the men and women of the New Zealand Police for what they've achieved and for the work they continue to do every day on our behalf."

ENDS

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