Crime statistics: Police deserve our support
Crime statistics: Police deserve our support and praise, says King
Police Minister Annette King has congratulated New Zealand Police for a significant increase in the number of cases resolved nationally, for continued successes in the war against P, and for their determination to help lessen the impact of family violence on New Zealand society.
Commenting on the annual crime statistics for the financial year to 30 June 2008, Ms King said: "We live in a world in which too often political opportunists knock the police, and don't recognise everything that police are doing to make our communities safer places to live in. A far more accurate picture of New Zealand society emerges in these statistics, and I hope the opportunists and critics are now prepared to give police the credit they are due.
"The police are doing an excellent job. They have resolved nearly 10,000 more offences in this past year compared to the previous year, an increase in the national resolution rate from 44.7 percent to 47 percent, and what is even better is that the crime rate has actually decreased by 1 percent on a population basis. I believe that shows that the way police are working alongside their communities is paying off; and it is also a tribute to the fact that this Government has added almost 2500 staff to police numbers."
Ms King says two aspects of the statistics are particularly relevant in terms of the safety of communities around New Zealand.
"The first is that family violence continues to remain a scourge of our society. While recorded violence offences rose 11.1 percent, with all districts experiencing increases, the increase in family violence (29 percent) actually accounted for the entire increase in the violence category.
"That is a tragic reflection of what is happening to many people, particularly women and children, inside their homes, and I only wish National Party politicians and others would get their heads out of the sand and recognise what a problem family violence is for New Zealand. Instead they constantly minimise the impact of family violence, and imply that our streets are becoming more violent. These statistics prove yet again how wrong they are."
Ms King said police deserved much credit, alongside campaigns like It's Not OK, for uncovering the level of family violence.
"All frontline police staff have now undertaken mandatory training in family violence investigation and risk assessment, and I am sure this is having an impact on the level of trust victims now have in police responding appropriately to this horrible crime."
Ms King said that in another initiative she had this week tabled in Parliament the Domestic Violence Reform Bill, aimed at improving the legislative framework "so that it better provides for the victims of domestic violence."
Ms King said she also believed police were doing a superb job in terms of drugs and anti-social offences, again contrary to the picture Opposition politicians liked to paint. "These offences increased 5.9 percent, but the increase is largely due to more effective policing.
"Over half the increase nationally has occurred because of a 22 percent increase in recorded breaches of liquor bans (up from 7650 offences to 9359), and, most significantly, the number of methamphetamine offences are down 18 percent from a peak two years ago. The only class of drug offences to increase this year (six percent) was cannabis, but this has been driven by police targeting drug dealers.
"We cannot afford to let up for one moment in our fight against the evil of P, but New Zealanders can be grateful that our police are leading the fight intelligently and courageously, and have the resources to back them up. The recent killing of an officer in Auckland shows just what a problem we are up against.
"As Judge Andrew Becroft said this week, we must be extra vigilant to prevent the 'social catastrophe' that would occur if hard-core drugs like methamphetamine ever become popular with teenagers."
Ms King said it was appropriate that today the new Policing Act 2008 came into operation. "This new Act brings policing into the 21st century, and I am confident that it will enable police to work alongside our communities even more effectively in the future."
NZ Police press release at http://www.police.govt.nz/news/