Thursday, 14 August 2003 - 2:11pm |

Recorded crime rises in Wellington Police District

7 min read

An increase in burglaries and vehicle crime including thefts from cars contributed to the 5.5 percent rise in recorded crime for the Wellington Police District.

Figures released today show a total of 45,541 offences were recorded in the 12 months ending 30 June -- up 2382 offences on the previous year. The amount of crime resolved by police was relatively stable on 46.2 percent, a marginal 0.3 percent drop on last year’s figures.

However, the population for Wellington District rose by 6200 people or 1.4 percent during the 12 months to 440,100.

Superintendent John Kelly, Wellington District commander, says he’s disappointed at the increase in total crime because officers have worked hard investigating crimes, arresting offenders and providing a range of policing services.

&#34We’re not sitting idle waiting for crime to happen,&#34 he says. &#34We’re out there actively targeting and arresting offenders. The crime increase is a setback but I hope it’s a temporary one as we are committed to reducing offending in our community.

&#34The crime increase is a concern and we’ve already implemented some new initiatives to tackle the problem areas of burglary, unlawful taking of vehicles and theft from vehicles.

&#34These strategies include working together with local councils and community agencies to improve lighting and environmental design that will make it harder for burglars and thieves to wreck their havoc on people’s lives.&#34

Mr Kelly says excessive alcohol consumption is fuelling street fights particularly in central city and town centres, and police are working with councils, public health and hospitality industry providers to counteract this problem.

On the encouraging side, crime resolution rates rose in four of the seven crime categories.

Crime increase for Wellington Area

Wellington Area overall crime rose 7.9 percent for the year, although the city’s population also increased during the period.

A total of 18,237 offences were recorded for the year, 1333 more than during the previous reporting period. The resolution rate rose slightly to 43.9 percent. There was a 2.5 percent population increase to 163,000 people.

Inspector Marty Grenfell, Wellington Area Controller, says new strategies introduced part way through the year to combat the rising number of burglaries and thefts, including thefts from cars, are beginning to have a positive effect. He hopes the picture will further improve in the coming months.

&#34Mid-way through the year we became concerned at crime trends and established the burglary response team to improve the quality of our scene attendance and to target known offenders.

&#34The benefits can be seen by the increased burglary resolution rate which is now up to 23.9 percent, considerably better than the 18.9 percent on the previous year.&#34

Mr Grenfell says more than 100 offenders have been arrested for burglaries since the squad started work.

&#34The 15 percent increase in violence is a major concern and much of it relates to public place offending such as street fights.&#34

Alcohol was a key factor for the increase and police warn they have adopted a zero tolerance policy towards liquor offending. Wellington Area police will continue to work closely with the Wellington City Council on the possibility of liquor bans in designated public places.

The Area is also introducing an inner city violence reduction team which will see for the first time a mix of investigators and general duties staff focusing solely on violent crime reduction. A large part of the team’s focus will be alcohol use in the city and providing quick follow-up to violent incidents that occur.

Violence and dishonesty offending influence Lower Hutt crime trends

Total recorded crime rose 6.2 percent in Lower Hutt but officers also solved more crime, raising their resolution rate by nearly one percent to 45.3 percent.

Lower Hutt’s population rose in the same period by nearly one percent to 99,750 people.

Inspector Bruce Dunstan, Lower Hutt Area Controller, says the 12 percent rise in violence and 10 percent rise in dishonesty are the two main areas of concern.

The increase in kidnappings and abductions reflects the improved focus that Lower Hutt police has adopted to family violence. During the last year a family violence coordinator was appointed and cemented networks with agencies such as Children, Young Persons and their Families, Rape Crisis, Women’s Refuge and probation workers.

&#34This has resulted in a case management approach to family violence and created a climate where women have been far more confident to report serious offending.

&#34This, coupled with a more in-depth investigative approach, has seen a large number of significant and serious charges laid. The increased number of charges for kidnapping and abduction are virtually all domestic related.&#34

Mr Dunstan says that while there has been an increase in street violence, he’s confident that strategies introduced during the year will ultimately lead to safer streets.

The strategies include liquor bans, improvements to the Street Smart programme (a joint initiative with WINZ, ACC, Hutt Valley Health and the Hutt City Council which has led to a group of people working on the streets to liaise with youth in the CBD area) and the recently introduced CCTV.

The cameras, installed by the Hutt City Council, have been operating only a few weeks but already are being instrumental in helping to locate offenders for crimes such as aggravated robbery, the unlawful taking of vehicles and thefts from cars.

&#34We expect to see that greater use of the cameras will significantly impact on street violence as the presence of CCTV in the CBD is a great crime deterrent.&#34

Lower Hutt Police is also to start a concerted campaign aimed at liquor outlets in the area as recent studies show they are contributing to street violence.

&#34We are taking an Area-wide focus to crime with all staff, from administration through to our frontline incident cars concentrating one problem at a time, such as burglaries or sex offending,&#34 Mr Dunstan says.

&#34This shared focus in paying dividends. We’ve already arrested one career burglar for more than 40 burglaries in the last few weeks.

&#34The approach is having a significant effect on sexual offending with known offenders targeted.&#34

Mr Dunstan acknowledged the partnership role police has with community agencies, particularly the Hutt City Council, in their support to joint crime reduction initiatives.

Excellent results for Upper Hutt Police

A stable recorded crime picture coupled with a 2.4 percent rise in crime resolution rates indicates that Upper Hutt Police have had an excellent year, says Inspector J J Johnston, Upper Hutt Area Controller.

&#34Our staff have worked incredibly hard to achieve the results during a period in which we’ve had some high profile serious crime investigations such as Operations Mist and Arch.&#34

A total of 3944 offences were recorded in the 12 months, just nine more than in the previous period. Resolved crime rose however by more than one percent from 52.1 percent to 53.5 percent with increases in nearly all crime categories.

Mr Johnston says the burglary resolution rate of 24.7 percent is up 5.9 percent on last year and the highest for the last four years.

&#34We’ve concentrated on getting the basics right including targeting known criminals, focusing on hot spot crime locations and crime types. Bail and curfew checks have been emphasised in an effort to curtail offender activity.&#34

Mr Johnston says several youth related initiatives have also been introduced.

&#34We encourage parents to know where their children are and to take positive action when their offspring have been found in less than desirable situations,&#34 he says.

&#34This has the result of fewer young people hanging around the city centre and a reduction in inner city offending.&#34

He says youth strategies will be further refined during the coming year.

Wairarapa paves the way with decrease in crime

Wairarapa bucked the district trend with a 5 percent drop in recorded crime, the only Area in the district to report a decrease.

Inspector Rod Drew, Wairarapa Area Controller, says the 55 percent resolution rate is also the highest in the district.

&#34The results are very encouraging and reflect our ‘all policing’ approach to burglary, unlawful taking, theft ex car and family violence,&#34 he says.

A total of 4542 offences was recorded in the Wairarapa, 239 fewer than last year.

The number of recorded burglaries was static with an increase of only two offences but 25.8 percent of burglaries were resolved -- significantly more than last year and the highest burglary resolution rate for the District.

Mr Drew says the result is very pleasing. &#34We were getting concerned about the increase in burglaries being seen in the first half of the year and took a hard look at our tactics including youth initiatives.

&#34We smartened our systems and are seeing improvements as a result.&#34

The number of unlawfully taken vehicles dropped 11.9 percent and strategies to deal with this type of offending are closely linked to strategies focusing on burglary and thefts from vehicles.

Violence is up 2.7 percent but this was expected as a result of the public awareness Violent Free Wairarapa Campaign.

Mr Drew says the static resolution rate of nearly 90 percent indicates that police attendance and investigation is effective.

The drop in administrative offences by 55 percent is primarily due to strict adherence to bail and curfew checks which has reduced the number of breaches.

Increased crime in Kapiti Mana

Recorded crime in Kapiti Mana rose 8.7 percent in the last 12 months, but the total number of offences is still lower than offending levels of three years ago.

Inspector John Spence, Kapiti Mana Area Controller, says the 2.8 percent drop in crime reported last year was a tough act to follow.

A total of 8423 offences were recorded in the last 12 months, up 676 on the 2002 level.

Kapiti Mana’s population also rose during the period -- up 1.1 percent to 100,500.

A drop in overall resolved crime is a concern but staff are working hard on a range of crime reduction initiatives.

The level of violent offending was static at 1046 offences, sexual offending, drugs and anti social crimes and administrative offences which includes court order breaches all dropped.

Increases in dishonesty offending, particularly burglaries, car conversion and theft, and property damage crimes were the key reasons for the overall crime increase, he says.