Monday, 8 March 2004 - 1:01pm |

Violence falls in Canterbury

4 min read

8 March 2004
Embargoed until 8 March 1.00 pm

Canterbury Statistics - 2003 calendar year
For national and district statistics visit
[Note; population of Canterbury in 1996 = 475, 010, 2002 = 498,750, 2003= 507,470, (Statistics NZ)].

Violent crime in Canterbury continued to trend down over the last year. Overall, looking at long term trends, there has been steady downward movement in the total number of offences, particularly of violence, since 1996. This is despite a rising population says District Commander, Superintendent Sandra MANDERSON.

“It is these long term trends we have to look at,” she says. “They tell us about how our policies and initiatives are working.”

“The recent homicides in Canterbury, where each of the alleged offenders and victims were known to each other, do not detract from the fact that Canterbury is a safe place to live.”

Violence has dropped 3.2% since last year, (3734 total) and over 74% of all crimes of violence are resolved.

“This is a tremendous result and must be largely attributed to the amount of attention staff have put in to the inner city,” says Superintendent Manderson. “Early Bird operations and extra patrols have had a double effect. The presence of police not only curbs violence from occurring but we believe that more cases of violence are reported when police are around. Volunteers manning city crime cameras have also played a role.”

A total of 50,807 crimes were reported in Canterbury last year, (an increase of 3.1% over 2002). 33.7% of these were resolved. Superintendent MANDERSON says that there is room for improvement and staff are working on initiatives to clear offences.

“Under our new structure we are setting up city wide tactical groups which are available to respond when a trend is seen to be emerging,” she says. “They will target high volume crimes and emerging area issues.”

The Alcohol ban in the inner city has had major impact on alcohol related offences which are up 94%. This has resulted in the central city being a safer place and is reflected in the lower violence rate. This is especially evident over December and January when central city violence was down compared to previous years.

“Inner city Christchurch is where Canterbury comes to play,” says Sandra Manderson. “For the first six months after the ban was introduced, just before Christmas 2002, police worked on educating the public on the issues. However since June the law has been enforced hence the massive increase.

The majority of all crime in Canterbury, falls into the category of Dishonesty – 64.5%. (This includes burglary, car conversion, theft, fraud and receiving. This class covers the full range of thefts reported, the most common ones such as theft ex car, theft from shops etc.)

In 2003 there were 32779 offences reported in Dishonesty category, up 4% on last year (2002= 31511) with 19.8% resolution. There has been a gradual rise over the last three years, however looking long term, there has been a steady decrease overall since 1996, while the resolution rate is trending up.

Total Burglaries (under Dishonesty), are up, an increase of 5.2%, only 13.7% resolved. Burglary of a dwelling is up 10.9%, (2003= 4730, 2002 = 4264), only 12% resolved. There have been peaks and troughs but the rate and resolutions are still very similar to those in 1996.

Theft ex car offences (2003= 8245) are up 19.2%. Police have been running local campaigns to educate the public on how to protect their vehicles and belongings and it is hoped this will make a difference.

Car theft and conversion is only up 1.1% but again showing a general downward trend overall, (2003 = 3007, 1996 = 4183).

Burglary of a dwelling and crimes which relate to vehicles are probably the areas which most directly impact on the public, says Superintendent Manderson. Both are areas where young people are primarily the offenders. They are also areas where the community can make a difference.
“Many of these offences take place in public view or are situations where individual actions can make a difference,” she says. “Making sure you have security measures in place at home and that they are used, is known to be a disincentive to burglars. Using alarms, deadlocks, joining Neighbourhood Support and the actions of Community watch groups all contribute towards stopping offenders, particularly opportunists. Police work very hard to educate the public and work alongside community groups in this area.

“Initiatives such as the Christchurch Social Policy Interagency Network collaborating and focussing on outcomes for young people between the ages of 13-19 years are based on research and fact finding by all those involved,” the District Commander says. “It is a long term initiative but I have full confidence we will make a difference.”

The Boy Racer Legislation has also had an impact with 120 cars taken under it since the legislation was introduced. Superintendent Manderson states that it has also considerably reduced activity.

Sexual offences are up 13.5%, (2002=414, 2003=470), but totals are not high overall, 46.6% were resolved. Just under half these offences occur in the Hagley Ferrymead area which may reflect where people socialise and the influence of alcohol.

Drugs and Anti social offences are up 3.3% on last year, but still down on 2001. Resolutions are up 2% to 89.2%. This is a `proactive’ offence in that people involved do not usually report them. Just over 40% of all these offences occur in HF, up 23.5%, where the resolution rate is 92.3%.

The Canterbury road toll rocketed last year with 52 deaths (up 34% on the three year average). There were 203 serious injuries reported, down 4.8% over the previous three years.

“There was an `unexplained period of aberration’ over a nine day period in March / April last year when there were 13 deaths,” Superintendent Manderson says. “Given that there was a 5% increase of vehicles on the roads last year and an 8% increase in petrol sales in the same period; more vehicles and more travel equates to more accidents.”

“Generally it has been a very busy year,” says the District Commander. “Staff have worked hard and with a new structure in place for 2004 which will give more opportunities for Area Commanders to prioritise and allocate their own resources, I hope we can continue to lower violence and turn around other key areas.”