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Crime drops nearly 8% in Wellington District

Recorded crime drops nearly 8 percent in Wellington Police District

Drops in burglaries and vehicle crimes in the last 12 months have contributed to a 7.7 percent decrease in recorded crime for the Wellington Police District.

Superintendent Rob Pope, Wellington Police District Commander, says the 2004 calendar year figures released today are good news and he's "cautiously optimistic" that further reductions will be achieved by the end of the next six-month reporting period in July.

A total of 42,887 offences were recorded in the District between January and December last year - that's 3585 crimes fewer than the previous 12 months. Police also solved more crime with the resolution rate going up from 45.5 percent to 47.2 percent - the highest in over a decade.

Superintendent Pope says the overall recorded crime figures are a big turnaround for local police and follow some serious soul searching about the effectiveness of our crime and crash reduction strategies.

"We've refined some of our internal processes and systems, really focused on key offenders operating across the Wellington District and put a lot more urgency into our work," he says. "These steps along with the strategies being implemented with external partners such as councils are having an impact.

"We knew we had to lift our game, be more visible and effective in our policing approach. My staff has worked hard to make this happen and the results are a credit to them," he says. "Our big challenge now is to make sure the good work isn't wasted and that the crime and crash reductions are sustainable."

Five of the seven crime categories recorded decreases. They were:
• administrative - down 35.2 percent
• dishonesty - down 9.8 percent
• property abuses - down 7 percent
• drugs and anti social - down 2.7 percent
• violence - down 0.8 percent.

Resolution rates improved or were stable in each of those five categories.

Two categories to show increases in reported crime were property damage - up 209 offences or 4.5 percent, and sexual offences - up five offences or 1.6 percent. Both categories however recorded increased resolution rates.

Vandalism including smashing windows and graffiti was responsible for the rise in property damage.

Each of the five Areas within the District recorded decreases in crime. They were:

• Upper Hutt - down 17.7 percent to a four-year low of 3659 offences
• Wellington City - down 11 percent to a four-year low of 16,512 offences
• Kapiti Mana - down 6 percent to 8486 offences
• Wairarapa - down 1.9 percent to a ten-year low of 4132 offences
• Lower Hutt - down 1.4 percent to 10,156 offences.

Superintendent Pope says he is particularly pleased with the reductions in burglary and vehicle offending as these are crimes which often "frustrate and inconvenience" the public.

"Having your home trashed or property stolen is hugely upsetting, especially if the items taken are of sentimental value and not easily replaced."

He says the formation of dedicated burglary units, close attention from scene of crime officers, changes to patrol patterns, targeting prolific offenders including juveniles, the impact of custodial sentences, and work with Neighbourhood Support and local councils is making a difference.

Burglaries dropped 13.7 percent in the District - a decrease of 902 offences to 5668. House burglaries dropped 21.3 percent from 4126 to 3246 offences.

Vehicle crime dropped 11.5 percent 7191 while theft dropped 7.6 percent or 1134 offences to 13,875 offences.

Superintendent Pope says better analysis of crime patterns has led to changes in enforcement which has led to arrests for prolific offenders. Police have also worked closely with local government and commercial operators to improve security, particularly in street lighting and use of security cameras.

Administrative offences dropped 35.2 percent or 868 offences to 1595.

"There's still plenty of offending to keep us busy," he says. "Family violence continues to be a problem. The formation of special family safety teams in the Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa as part of a national initiative will I hope effect some positive changes for those living in homes where violence is the norm.

"We're also continuing to see the prevalence of methamphetamine in general offending."

He says the release of today's statistics reflects just part of the policing picture. "We're not just talking figures. Behind the numbers are people who are victims of crime.

"Our motivation is people. We want to provide the very best policing service we can to people living in our District."

A snapshot of results in the five Areas follows:

Wellington City Area crime drops 11 percent

Wellington City is starting to benefit from crime and crash reduction strategies developed over the last 18 months, says Inspector Marty Grenfell, Wellington Area Commander.

The increased focus on burglary, vehicle offending and violence has contributed to the 11 percent decrease in recorded crime.

A total of 16,512 offences were recorded last year - 2045 less than in the same time for 2003.

Five of the seven crime categories recorded decreases in offending. They were: violence down 5.9 percent, sexual offending down 21.6 percent, dishonesty down 14.4 percent, property abuses down 14.6 percent and administrative down 31.3 percent.

Recorded crime rose 4.5 percent in drugs and anti social offending (primarily the influence of methampethamine and 'party' drugs, and a 3.2 percent rise in property damage.

Inspector Grenfell says the increased police specialisation and greater understanding of how criminals operate in the city has led to large numbers of offenders being caught.

"Tactical analysis, patrol patterns, scene examinations, forensic developments and investigative expertise have all contributed to the crime reductions," he says.

"Staff have really concentrated on the key crime categories of violence, burglary and vehicle offending so it is heartening to see the pay-off in reduced crime."

Partnerships with other agencies, particularly the city council, have also having an affect with police taking a hard line on alcohol fuelled disorder and public liquor ban breaches.

The resolution rate rose slightly to 44.7 percent.

Upper Hutt crime drops 17.7 percent

Recorded crime in Upper Hutt dropped 17.7 percent to a new four-year low with a total of 3601 offences recorded last year.

Inspector Brett Kane, Upper Hutt Area Commander, says the decrease is very satisfying,with the figures off-setting crime increases in the previous three years.

He says the 11.4 percent drop in violence - down 57 offences to 445 overall - is significant. Minor assaults, down by 40 offences from 208 in 2003 to 168 last year, is the largest contributor to the overall drop in violence.

Drugs and anti-social offending is down 19 percent or 111 offences, with the largest drop being in disorder.

"Our approach of high visibility policing, planning for and attending public events appears to be starting to pay dividends."

Inspector Kane says the 10 percent drop in dishonesty offending is particularly pleasing. Within this category, burglary dropped 11.1 percent and theft 10.7 percent.

"We set up a target squad to focus solely on high volume crimes. Their work and the commitment of all staff in the Area to achieve crime targets is a step in the right direction."

Lower Hutt crime drops 1.4 percent

Lower Hutt Police say the 1.4 percent drop in crime could have been greater had it not been for the prevalence of wilful damage.

Inspector Bruce Dunstan, Lower Hutt Area Commander, says there was a 27 percent increase in wilful damage last year, and this has influenced overall results.

"We're pleased with our overall reduction in crime as this is significantly better than the 2.7 percent increase we experienced in 2003," he says. The crime reduction rate is also accompanied by an increased resolution rate to 47.6 percent.

A total of 10,156 crimes were recorded for the year, 149 less than 12 months ago.

Inspector Dunstan says Lower Hutt Police has changed their response to crime, implementing in August last year a new intelligence model 'Hutt Crim'.

"This model integrates crime and crash reduction information with management activities, planning and accountability," he says. "We've a more urgent approach to offending, and since its introduction, results have been outstanding with an 11 percent reduction in the July to December period compared with the same time a year ago."

Inspector Dunstan says he's optimistic that further reductions can be made and says public and partner agency help has also been instrumental in effecting changes.

Financial and technical support from the Hutt City Council has increased the number of closed circuit television cameras from five to 12 in the CBD. "These cameras have directly contributed to over 69 arrests during the last six months with offences including burglary, serious assaults and robbery."

Violence continues to be a problem with a 2.3 percent increase although police, public health and Hutt City Council are tackling the linkages between alcohol and violence with joint strategies.

The coordinated enforcement approach to licensed premises and the extension of Hutt City Council's public liquor ban area are two of the initiatives.

Local knowledge helps Wairarapa reduce crime by 1.9 percent

Local knowledge and getting the basics right has helped Wairarapa police reduce crime by 1.9 percent to a new ten-year low, says Inspector John Johnston, Wairarapa Area Commander.

At total of 4132 offences were recorded, 78 less than 2003's figures. The crime resolution rate dropped slightly to 50.7 percent but was still the highest in the Wellington District.

Highlights for the year include the 10.4 percent drop in dishonesty and 10.2 percent drop in drugs and anti social offences.

Inspector Johnston says targeting known offenders, checking bail and curfew conditions, attention to the taking of fingerprints and DNA, especially in youth offenders, is part of the Area's crime and crash reduction strategy.

"Most of our traction is through local knowledge," he says. "The staff get out, talk with people and share information. We focus on getting the basic policing practices right."

He says the 35.7 percent increase in property damage - up 167 offences - was due to a small group of people bent on smashing windows and causing other vandalism.

"We had 22 shop windows done over two nights before we caught the offenders."

Inspector Johnston says the vandalism was a catalyst for police working with the Masterton council to introduce CCTV in the town centre. The cameras were installed in late December and police are confident they will be a useful crime reduction tool.

"The partnerships we have with people and organisations like our councils, Violence Free Wairarapa, the Safe and Healthy Community Council, Wanaui Whaiora and Womens' Refuge are a critical part to improving the lives of everyone in our community," he says.

Six percent drop in Kapiti Mana crime

Crime in Kapiti Mana has dropped six percent in the last 12 months.

A total of 8486 offences were recorded, down 537 on 2003's figures. The crime resolution rate went up from 42.8 percent to 49.7 percent.

Inspector John Spence, Kapiti Mana Area Commander, says he's pleased dishonesty and property damage offending has gone down - 8.8 percent and 16.1 percent respectively - but he's still concerned by the levels of violence and sexual offending.

"Burglary offending was getting out of hand," he says. "A total of 1185 burglaries were recorded during the year but a refocus on our strategies six months ago is having an effect and we're pegging back the level of offending.

The new strategy focuses on urgency. Burglary suspects are dealt with immediately, known burglars are targeted, and forensic hits such as fingerprints and DNA actioned. Other tools included bail and curfew checks.

Crime Control Units were set up in Porirua and Kapiti tasked solely with burglary investigation.

Inspector Spence says the focus on burglary has seen a reduction in other crimes of dishonesty, particularly vehicle crime and theft.

He says the 16.1 percent drop in property damage is very pleasing as a lot of work has been done by police, the Porirua City Council, Porirua City Guardians and local businesses to reduce vandalism and wilful damage.

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