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New Zealand crime rate lowest on record

New Zealand crime rate lowest on record

Fiscal year crime statistics released today show recorded crime is continuing to drop, with a 5.2% decrease on the previous year.

There were 394,522 recorded offences in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, compared with 416,324 the previous year. This represents a decrease of 5.2% or 21,802 offences.

New Zealand’s resident population increased by 0.7% during that period, resulting in a 5.9% decrease in the number of offences recorded per 10,000 of population.

This is the lowest number of offences in any fiscal year since 1988-1989, and the lowest crime rate per head of population since before electronic records have been maintained.

Deputy Police Commissioner Viv Rickard says the results are very pleasing.

“These figures indicate that New Zealand is becoming a safer place to live. They will act as further motivation to keep our focus firmly on preventing crime before it happens,” he says.

The largest decrease was in Canterbury District, where recorded crime fell by 11.7%.

Following the earthquake there was a sudden large decrease in recorded theft and property damage offences. Offences at the less serious end of the spectrum reduced the most. Although small by value, these offences are large by volume.

“This decrease appears to be partly due to the public not wanting to bother us with minor matters when they knew we were dealing with the earthquake aftermath,” Mr Rickard says.

Other significant drops occurred in Southern (-11.2%); Counties Manukau (-9.4%) and Bay of Plenty (-8.6%).

The overall national resolution rate rose slightly, from 47.3% in 2010-11 to 47.6% in 2011-12.
Homicide and related offending dropped by 20 offences (-21.5%). The number of murders rose by 9 (34 the previous fiscal year rising to 43 this year). This is still lower than in most years since electronic records began in 1995. Within this figure, there were 20 family violence murders, which is the same number as the previous year.

The latest figures also show that:

• Acts intended to cause injury, which are mainly assault-related offences, dropped by 6.8% (down 2,948 offences).
• Sexual assault and related offences increased by 3.6% (121 offences). Sexual offending is known to be significantly under-reported, so it is difficult to know to what extent this increase is a result of increased reporting rather than increased offending.
• Abduction, harassment and other related offences against a person – dominated by threatening behaviour – dropped by 10.2% (1,408 offences). These offences are often at the less serious end of the spectrum. The decrease may reflect proactive policing of disorder or changing public tolerance of violent behaviour.
• Robbery, extortion and related offences were down by 8%.
• Unlawful entry with intent / burglary / break and enter offences reduced by 3.4%. This included a 1.6% reduction in dwelling burglaries. Much of the drop in Canterbury is consistent with the population shifting out of the CBD and Eastern areas and police focussing on prevention.
• Theft and related offences dropped by 5.2% (7,146 offences). This category makes up approximately one third of all recorded offences. Canterbury contributed a 14.3% reduction (2,187 offences) in minor thefts for the reasons outlined above. Nationally, there were fewer stolen vehicles than the previous year (-3.5% from 20,345 to 19,642). Thefts from cars reduced even more (-5.2% from 37,954 to 35,976).
• Illicit drug offences rose 5.1%, from 20,973 to 22,052 offences. Within this figure, recorded offences for drug use and possession actually fell 5.6%. The increases in this category was driven by a 72.2% increase in offences for dealing and trafficking, which reflects proactive targeting of drug dealers. There were 798 more recorded offences for supply / administer / deal cannabis (+10.2%) and 532 more recorded offences for supply / administer / deal methamphetamine and amphetamine (+100.6%).
• Property damage and environmental pollution offences fell by 9.4%. Most of these offences relate to wilful damage (down 5.8%). However recorded graffiti offences fell 30% from 7,238 to 5,069. It’s likely that preventative policing is contributing to these reductions.
• Public order offences decreased by 3.5%. Auckland City however increased 46.3% due to increased enforcement of liquor bans.

Mr Rickard says the continued drop in recorded crime is very encouraging.

"Although movements in crime statistics can be due to several factors, I believe we are seeing some traction from our Prevention First approach, particularly against prolific drug offenders, people who deface our public spaces with graffiti and those who create public disorder."

Mr Rickard says the really pleasing aspect of the drop in the number of recorded offences means fewer people have suffered the trauma associated with becoming a victim of crime.

"Victims are at the heart of everything we do. Stopping someone being a victim is stopping crime from happening. To make sure this is formally embedded in our approach, we're implementing an initiative called the Victim Focus Framework.

"This is about making victims the primary focus of the Police response and reducing repeat victimisation. By improving the way we interact with victims, we will reduce future demands on Police and create safer communities."

Mr Rickard is praising police staff for their contribution to the continued drop in recorded crime.
"I'd like to thank police staff for their hard work and commitment to Prevention First.

"They've really picked up the ball and run with it. Around the country, police officers are taking a strategic approach to the offending and victimisation issues and they're working with individuals and organisations in their communities to make a positive impact on some clearly defined targets.

"We all know we're not done yet. But these latest crime statistics provide a very encouraging indicator that our work is paying dividends," Mr Rickard says.


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