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1999 - Police commitment maintains downward trend in crime
Police Commissioner Peter Doone says that a drop of 3 percent in recorded crime is a pleasing result, and he credits this success to the commitment of police staff, the wider efforts of the community and partner agencies, and extra frontline staff provided by the Government.
``Not only did recorded crime decrease, but the resolution rate for all investigations has improved slightly to 38.3 percent," he says.
This latest result continues the downward trend of recent years, which has seen a consistent reduction in the rising crime trends evident in the late 1980's and early 1990's. In the five years from 1994 to 1999, overall crime dropped 5 percent compared to an increase of 8.8 percent from 1989 to 1994.
Mr Doone warned against complacency however. ``There is still too much crime in New Zealand, especially violent crime," he says.
`` I am determined to build on these gains and ensure New Zealanders higher levels of safety." Mr Doone believes however, that public fears that violent crime is increasing are unjustified. The amount of recorded violent crime has fallen since 1995. Recorded sexual offending has reduced by more than 18 percent over the last 5 years.
Nine of the twelve police districts show a drop in recorded crime. Eastern district recorded the biggest drop in recorded crime with 8.3 percent fewer recorded offences than in the previous year. Auckland district recorded the second biggest drop with a recorded 6.5 percent fewer crimes.
Public satisfaction with Police services has remained high at 74%. Recorded violent offending has stabilized and within this category homicide, kidnapping, abduction and robbery all show significant decreases 19, 11.5 and 8.3 percent respectively.
The numbers of burglaries remain at similar levels to last year but have fallen more than 9 percent over the last five years. Unlawful takings and vehicle interference dropped 7.3 percent last year.
Recorded sexual offences decreased by 3.5 percent.
Mr Doone says over the past year Police have targeted resources into gangs organised activity, drug and violent offending as key strategic focus areas. This has contributed to increased recording of drugs offences and also criminal harassment and intimidation and threats. New gang and organised crime legislation is being effectively used, he says.
Domestic Violence Act offences increased by 16.3 percent. Some 3,864 offences were recorded in 1998/99 compared to 3,323 in 1997/98. This illustrates the protection provided in the Domestic Violence Act introduced in 1995 and shows Police are increasing enforcement of its provisions.
A reduction is evident in the dishonesty crime category, with an overall decrease of 2.9 percent. Decreases were recorded for fraud at 18 percent and a decrease of 7.3 percent of vehicle taking and interference.
Staff safety has also improved, reflecting new initiatives in equipment and training. Serious assaults on police dropped from 234 to 193, or 17.5%. Minor assaults also dropped but not to the same extent.
``This level is still far too high, and further initiatives will be implemented over the next two years to bring the number of assaults on police down further, `` Mr Doone says.
Complaints against the police dropped by 14.3%, contributing to a 17.2% drop in the last two years.
Mr Doone says road safety is a police priority. The road toll has reduced from 647 in 1992 to 502 in 1998.
Overall road safety enforcement of the roads is increasing. In the 1998/99 year total recorded traffic offences and infringements reported by Police rose 9.7%, to a total of more than one million.
The three main causes for car crashes are speed, drink driving and not wearing safety belts. Speed is the biggest single road safety issue for New Zealand. In the 1998/99 year more than half a million speeding tickets were issued. Officers on patrol issued 393,679 offence notices; an increase of 14% over the 1997/98 total of 116,926.
In addition speed camera offences increased from 373,094 to 393,679; an increase of 5.5 percent. ``We are concerned that despite this level of enforcement and associated advertising a large number of New Zealand drivers are still exceeding speed limits and compromising safety," Mr Doone says.
Drink/drive offending has remained relatively stable, suggesting that the gains made in recent years are being maintained. Never-the-less more than 31,000 drink driving offences reflect the high number of alcohol related crashes still occurring on the roads.
``Police activity is aimed at encouraging safe driving practices. We are working with road safety partners to analyse crash trends over time and direct activity to the areas of greatest risk. Our enforcement measures, supported by intensive television advertising, are aimed at changing road user behaviour," he says.
Mr Doone says the recorded crime statistics show some encouraging trends. ``As we move into the new millennium we are well placed to continue the improvements achieved in the last few years and I have complete confidence in police to continue attacking the roots of crime and making the community a safer place."
Ends
Released By:
Kaye Calder
Media Relations Manager
Office of the Commissioner
Ph : 04 474-9482


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The crime statistics released today show total recorded crime dropped from 465,834 to 455,552 offences. When adjusted for population this represents a drop of 3 percent.

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