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National Party fear-mongering in South Auckland

National Party fear-mongering in South Auckland, says King

Huge strides have been made in the past nine years to improve community safety in South Auckland, despite the constant attempts by the National Party to portray South Auckland as a crime battlefield, says Police Minister Annette King.

"Their constant belittling of South Auckland is not fair on the tens of thousands of good people who live and work there.

"It is not fair on the community which is dedicated to making South Auckland a safer place.

"And it is certainly not fair on the Police, who have made tremendous efforts to work with the community to make South Auckland a place where people want to live and work."

Ms King said increased Government funding has allowed an additional 119 Police staff to be allocated to the Counties-Manukau District since 1 July 2006.

"South Auckland also can and do call on the resources and services of other police districts - there are now nearly 3,000 police staff in the greater Auckland metro area, and that does not include staff providing key services such as the Communications Centre and Prosecutions services."

Ms King says the initiatives taken in South Auckland are wide-ranging and involve a number of central and local government and NGO agencies.

They include;

A Mobile Police Station Unit, launched in February, which has been deployed to conduct high visibility and community reassurance policing throughout the District.

A Counties Manukau Plan of Action as a response to address the youth gang situation in Counties Manukau. This is a multifaceted approach, for which key actions include the provision of youth workers, wrap around services for high risk young people and their families and parenting information and support. Youth gang incidences have subsequently fallen.

The Auckland Youth Support Network, which is working with the Manurewa Community Board to ensure effective Police community engagement through projects such as Pacific patrols, Maori wardens, and Neighbourhood Support. Out-of-school activities and training programmes are being organised for youth, as well as a community youth information centre and a 'Responsible Guardian' programme.

The local response by Police to aggravated burglaries includes security advice to dairy owners, superettes and fast food outlets to identify opportunities for security improvements and to achieve visibility of police presence in the community in and around these kinds of premises.

The Auckland Youth Support Network has now placed 22 youth workers in the Counties Manukau District. Most were appointed to 'acute' areas of need.

Dedicated Police Community Constables have been assigned to work in high schools as part of the new "Cops in Schools" initiative. The staff allocated to these positions were funded out of the Government new initiative of 250 Community Constables.

Action strategies, developed in conjunction with local councils, include alcohol bans and coordinated and effective Policing of problematic hot spots.

The Ministry of Justice is working closely with local councils to develop and support anti tagging plans and activities, and is providing nationwide training workshops available to all local council partners. Additional funding has been provided to local authorities to support their anti-tagging initiatives.

Ms King says Counties Manukau Police District's total recorded crime in the 12 months ending 30 June 2008 has remained at a similar level to the previous year.

The crime statistics released on 1st October show a less than one percent increase in recorded crime for the year ending 30 June 2008 compared to the previous year. This equates to a 2 percent reduction per head of population, as Counties Manukau's population has risen over the same period.

Increases included Violence offences, which rose by 19 percent, Property Damage offences, which rose by 10 percent, and Drug and Anti-social offences, which rose 4 percent.

The increase in the total number of recorded Violence offences has been driven almost entirely by an increase in recorded family violence assaults.

Dishonesty offences decreased significantly over the last two years. In the 2007-08 year there were 558 recorded Dishonesty offences per 10,000 population, compared with 606 the year before and 756 in 1998-99. These offences include Burglary, which fell 14% in 2007/08, Car Conversion, which fell 8%, and Theft, which fell 1%.

"We are making good progress in South Auckland and there is no justification for the National Party to run a fear campaign in the district and to run roughshod over the Police Commissioner's overall strategy to reduce crime in the Auckland region," said Ms King.

"The Police know where resources are needed far better than the National Party does."

ENDS

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