Crime statistics provide signs of encouragement
Crime statistics provide signs of encouragement, says Police Minister Annette King
Police Minister Annette King says the lowest murder statistics for a decade show New Zealand has not become a more dangerous place in which to live.
Commenting on the crime statistics for the 2007 calendar year, Ms King said: "Time and time again, whenever there is a random cluster of murders, the doom merchants and people with political barrows to push claim our streets are no longer safe to walk in.
"The reality is that murder statistics don't fluctuate much from year to year. Last year there were 45 murders, fewer than for a decade. That's still too many, as far as I am concerned, but murders are not out of control, as some would suggest. In terms of violent crime, the real tragedy for our society continues to be domestic violence."
Ms King said she is encouraged, however, that women are now reporting incidents of domestic violence in greater numbers. "It is becoming clearer that women now have sufficient confidence in the police to report incidents of domestic violence.
"I believe that what we are seeing is a truer reflection of the level of violence against women in our society. The increased number of violent offences in the statistics is almost entirely driven --- 5810 out of 6252 extra offences --- by recorded family violence. I also believe and hope that the current 'it's not OK' and similar campaigns will encourage women to continue coming forward," she said.
"We are now living in is a society in which women in particular feel police will take them seriously if they ask for help and protection. The fact that police laid 5151 more domestic violence prosecutions last year than in 2006 shows police are highly committed to addressing this blight on our society."
Ms King said she was encouraged by a number of aspects of the annual statistics, including:
•The incidence of recorded crime has remained at roughly the same level as in 2006, and has actually reduced 0.5 percent on the basis of recorded offences per 10,000 population.
•While the actual number of offences increased by about 2000 during the year, police resolved nearly 10,000 more cases than they did in 2006.
•The 37 percent increase (2414 more offences) in recorded breaches of liquor bans. "As we should all know, crime, particularly violence, is often fuelled by alcohol. That's why police are taking an increasingly tough stance on policing alcohol breaches."
•A five per cent reduction in burglaries and an eight percent reduction in car conversions. "Overall, in fact, recorded dishonesty offences, which make up more than half of all offences, fell 5.1 percent in 2007, and police say this continues a long-term trend that has seen a decrease in dishonesty offences per head of population by almost a third over the past decade."
•Ten percent fewer offences under the broad heading of homicide and seven percent fewer robbery offences. "In most headings under the violence category increases have been largely driven by recorded domestic violence incidents, and the recorded increase in an area such as intimidation and threats shows people are no longer as prepared to accept this sort of behaviour."
Ms King said she particularly wanted to congratulate police generally for resolving 9539 more offences last year than they did in 2006.
"This success can presumably be attributed to a number of factors, but I have no doubt that two of the principal ones are intelligence-led policing, and the extra police resources that have been put in place by the Labour-led Government through its confidence and supply agreement with New Zealand First.
"We are already more than halfway toward our target of 1000 extra frontline staff by the end of June next year. I know from comments received from staff around the country that the extra police are making a substantial difference in terms of fighting crime and making our communities safer."