Monday, 8 March 2004 - 1:01pm |

Drug related dishonesty boosts Wellington District crime

11 min read

A combination of concentrated enforcement of crime, and drug related dishonesty, has led to an increase in overall crime in the Wellington Police District, according to figures released today.

Wellington District, which encompasses Wellington City, Kapiti Mana, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt and the Wairarapa, recorded a 6.3 percent increase in recorded crime for the calendar year ending December 2003.

The latest statistics show that 46,477 offences were recorded in Wellington District, 2760 more than in 2002. While the district’s crime resolution rate is slightly down 0.6 percent to 45.4 percent; officers continued to solve more crime, resolving 21,122 offences compared to the 2002 figure of 20,092.

Superintendent Rob Pope, Wellington District Commander, says he is proud of the work and commitment from local police. “They have been targeting known offenders and working hard to deliver an absolute crime focus. We continue to develop strategies where our results will show our intolerance to crime.”

A snapshot of the five Areas within the District shows:

• Wellington Area (Churton Park south through the city) recorded a 9.4 percent rise in recorded crime and a 2.6 percent drop in resolution rates.
• Kapiti Mana recorded a 13 percent rise in recorded crime and a 3.8 percent drop in resolution rates.
• Lower Hutt recorded a 2.7 percent rise in recorded crime and a 5.3 percent rise in resolution rates.
• Upper Hutt recorded a 10.8 percent rise in recorded crime and a 0.8 percent drop in resolution rates.
• Wairarapa recorded a 12 percent drop in recorded crime and a 2.6 percent rise in resolution rates.

Across the District dishonesty rose 8.3 percent or 2026 offences last year with most of the increase being in burglary (20.1 percent or 1101 offences) and theft (8.2 percent or 1141 offences). Mr Pope said that there are indications that the increase, particularly in dishonesty offences, is linked to the use of the drug methamphetamine and the actions of users to fund the addiction by crime - however this does not appear to be the exclusive reason.

Anti-war protests, increased reporting of graffiti and on-going minor acts of vandalism particularly to letterboxes led to a rise in property damage across the District by 17.3 percent or 690 offences.

“Police have worked closely with councils and community partners to remove graffiti tags. A graffiti taskforce established within the Kapiti Mana Police area led to the apprehension of youths, some of whom were responsible for up to 100 graffiti tags each.”

Alcohol was a factor in violent offences (up 1.3 percent or 67 offences) along with drugs and anti-social behavior (up 2.7 percent or 134 offences) across the District. “While we are pleased to see an overall drop in minor assaults (5.6 percent or 91 offences), the majority of violent offending is alcohol related especially on Friday and Saturday nights.”

Mr Pope says police will continue to focus on alcohol related crime by enforcing liquor bans, increasing foot patrols and prosecuting liquor establishments for sale of liquor breaches.

“Wellington Area Police, the District Licensing Authority (Wellington City Council) and Regional Public Health all of whom have liquor enforcement powers, combined to provide a collective enforcement approach aimed at reducing alcohol-related crime and harm. Known as “KEG” Kommunity Enforcement Group, they have been able to seek and obtain through the Liquor Licensing Authority, suspension and cancellation of a number of liquor licenses where sale of liquor breaches have occurred.

“This coordinated approach is also being used effectively elsewhere in the District.”

The numbers of sexual offences across the district dropped by 7.4 percent or 26 offences. “We are however concerned with the numbers of young women who after using alcohol or drugs become victims of sexual attacks. Care needs to be taken with the use of alcohol and suitable transport arrangements made to get home safely.”

Surveillance cameras (CCTV) were installed in central business locations throughout Wellington City and Lower Hutt. “Lower Hutt Police operate the Lower Hutt cameras which were installed by the Hutt City Council and local businesses. The presence of the cameras and increased inner city policing have seen minor assaults in Lower Hutt drop by 12.8% (49 offences).”

Family violence crime contributes to overall recorded crime. Mr Pope says the District Family Violence Policy meant that wherever you live in the Wellington region, Police investigate family violence as a crime and will hold perpetrators accountable. “We have improved our systems of identifying repeat offenders and victims to enable appropriate interventions and we continue to encourage victims to report this crime”.

Although the district recorded crime is up 6.3 percent, when the increase in the regional population is taken into consideration, total recorded crime amounts to a 4.8 percent increase per 10,000 residents.

Media contact: Kaye Calder, District Communications Manager,
tel 496 3464 or 0274 373 020. Area breakdowns follow.

Criminal behavior a by-product of city’s successful redevelopment

Wellington Police will continue to focus on alcohol related crime and work closely with Wellington City Council to ensure safety on the streets, parks and in homes, says Inspector Marty Grenfell, Wellington Area Commander.

The introduction of a central city liquor ban towards the end of 2003 is showing promising results, impacting positively on behavior in the inner city. This will be followed by the introduction of a ten year safety programme being developed between police and council.

Inspector Grenfell says that an increase in social activity and Wellington’s growing popularity as a “party and an event city” are factors in an overall recorded crime increase.

“There is a price to pay for successfully developing a 24-hour city where people can drink, eat and be entertained around the clock. Alcohol use, drug taking, 24-hour entertainment, large sports events and increasing public events are key contributors to crime drivers.

“We have been turning up the heat on a number of irresponsible premises which sell and serve alcohol, as alcohol fuels and is a factor in a significant amount of crime in the inner city,” Mr Grenfell says.

He warned licensed managers, bar staff and patrons to expect the tough line to continue from police.

Insecure buildings, homes, public car parks and cars parked in and around the city provided easy pickings for criminals, many of whom travel large distances to prey on the city crime opportunities. A recent analysis of burglaries highlighted a lack of basic security measures at homes and businesses as a key factor given by criminals.

“In nearly one third of all cases burglars reported open windows or insecure premises as a reason for breaking into a property. The message is simple: lock it.”

Mr Grenfell says police intend:

• Targeting problem bars
• Enforcing the liquor bans
• Stepping up foot patrols in the city
• Mounting youth and alcohol related operations
• Working closer with Wellington City Council to address environmental design issues
• Continuing to develop city safety initiatives with the council.

Key points to emerge from last year’s crime statistics included:

• Violence rose 12.6 percent (215 offences) an additional eight offences every fortnight. Primarily the increases related to the number of serious assaults reported. This type of offending is often alcohol-related with 90 percent of offenders arrested for violence on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights being alcohol impaired. Early indications are that the recently imposed liquor ban appears to be reducing violence in the central city area.
• No homicides.
• A rise in sexual offending by 4.5 percent (6 offences). Police are concerned with the number of offences reported by young women who have become victims of sexual attacks after using alcohol or drugs. Mr Grenfell urged young women to choose their friends carefully, moderate their drinking and put transport arrangements in place.
• Drugs and anti social offences dropped 6 percent (127 offences) due to a fall in cannabis related offences.
• An increase in burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles meant in dishonesty offences, a rise of 13.4 percent (1401 offences).

Media contact: Inspector Marty Grenfell, telephone 802 3738

Wairarapa Crime Down

Targeting “hot” offenders, enforcing curfew conditions and increased reporting of known criminals activities within the Wairarapa Police area are some of the reasons reported crime dropped by 12 percent or 575 offences in 2003. Resolved crime also rose to 54 percent or 2275 offences from 51.4 percent in 2002.

Inspector John Johnston, Wairarapa Area Commander is very pleased with the result. “It is the lowest reported crime rate for the Wairarapa since 2000. Staff have worked hard to react quickly to reports of burglary and overnight crime. By fully interviewing offenders before they are released, police are able to identify trends as they are developing and take an appropriate response.”

A rigorous approach to liquor licensing matters has seen a drop in property damage crime of 25.6 percent (161 offences). Mr Johnston says violence, disorder and property damage is very often alcohol-related. We are working with local authorities to ensure an across the board approach to liquor enforcement.

Working closely with local and central government, community and Maori organisations, Police continue to look for appropriate interventions to repeat offenders and victims of family violence. “We will continue to work closely with our “problem” families to reduce family violence.”

Mr Johnson encourages residents to help police reduce crime further. “Report suspicious activity as soon as you see it happening. Remember to ensure windows and doors are locked and keep personal belongings out of view in vehicles.”

Media Contact: Inspector John Johnston, telephone 06 370 0301

Kapiti Mana Violent Crime Drops

Reported violent offending in the Kapiti Mana Area dropped by 15.8 percent or 176 offences in 2003. Sexual offending dropped by 31.9 percent or 23 offences and the numbers of serious assaults dropped by 22.3 percent or 83 offences.

Inspector John Spence, Kapiti Mana Area Commander was heartened by the results which he says were achieved by increased police patrols around the Porirua City center at peak times and more attention being paid to liquor licensed premises.

While pleased that violent offending had dropped, Inspector Spence was disappointed with an overall increase of reported crime in Kapiti Mana by 13.1 percent or 1045 offences.

Dishonesty offending which includes burglary and thefts from motor vehicles rose 11.9 percent or 529 offences. Mr Spence says that there appears to be a link between dishonesty offending and the use and increased abuse of methamphetamine. Operational initiatives are being developed to reduce this dishonesty type offending which includes the use of community volunteers to watch public car parks.

Working with the Porirua City Council and local businesses, police are recording the true offending rate of property damage, which includes graffiti. Property damage offending rose 59.9 percent or 600 offences.

“We are doing something about the problem and have apprehended youths responsible for graffiti tags, some of whom were responsible for up to 100 “tags”. Every tag located was recorded as an offence in order to build cases, identify those responsible, and place them before the courts.

“While I am disappointed with an overall reported crime increase in 2003, I am heartened that reported crime in Kapiti Mana has only increased by 2.7 percent since 2000. My staff are dedicated and very committed to reversing the 2003 result.”

Inspector Spence reminds residents to report suspicious activity as it happens and to record unfamiliar vehicle registrations within their neighborhood.

Media contact: Inspector John Spence, telephone 04 238 1432

Upper Hutt Reported Crime Up

Overall reported crime within the Upper Hutt Area rose 10.8 percent or 428 offences in 2003. Drugs and antisocial offending rose 16.3 percent or 82 offences and property damage rose 25 percent or 94 offences.

Senior Sergeant Rowan Ingham, the Acting Upper Hutt Area Commander says that the increase in reported crime is bitterly disappointing, as staff have been working extremely hard in their community. This year police will be targeting personal invasion crimes such as burglary and vehicle crime. Drug use is seen as a catalyst to much of the dishonesty offending.

“In the first half of 2003, we experienced unusually large numbers of youths gathered in the central business area leading to a few weeks where significant minor property damage occurred. Since then we have increased police presence at known gathering times and with the assistance of the District Strategic Response Group have worked to provide a safer environment.”

Mr Ingham says police are continuing to work closely with management and staff at Rimutaka Prison responding to calls for assistance, conducting joint vehicle checkpoints, and regularly apprehending people for drug and driving offences.

The staff are disappointed to see the increase in overall crime however they will continue to target offenders including stringent bail and curfew checks. He encourages the public to report suspicious behavior.

Ends: Media Contact: Senior Sergeant Rowan Ingham, telephone 04 527 2333

Increased Crime Resolutions in Lower Hutt

Lower Hutt Police resolved more crime in 2003 achieving 47.5 percent (4896 offences) up from 42.2 percent (4236 offences) in 2002. Overall reported crime rose 2.7 percent or 270 offences last year.

Inspector Bruce Dunstan, Lower Hutt Area Commander, says while he is disappointed with the increase in reported crime it has been a busy year for staff tackling a range of offending including three homicides investigated and resolved during the year.

“I am very pleased that despite the high workload we solved more crime in 2003”.

Dishonesty offending which includes burglary and theft from motor vehicles rose 4.9 percent or 267 offences. “We know that users are stealing to feed their addiction and drug dealers are receiving stolen property in payment for drug debts,” Mr Dunstan says. “The rise in the use of methamphetamine is a catalyst for this type of offending.

“We work closely with second-hand dealers who regularly check with us if they become suspicious of property before they purchase it. These efforts and continued targeting of known offenders meant our burglary resolution rate rose to 17.5 percent.”

Other key highlights were:

• A drop in sexual offences by 8.5 percent.
• Unlawful takings and motor vehicle related offences dropped 20.8 percent.
• Family offences dropped 31.1 percent.
• A drop in property abuses which includes trespass by 28.7 percent.
• Best crime resolution in three years for violent offences, drugs and anti-social behavior, dishonesty and administrative type offences.

Greater emphasis on policing the inner city licensed liquor establishments has seen a marked decrease in street offending.

“We monitor the Hutt City Council surveillance cameras around the central business area and provide a police presence during known trouble times,” Mr Dunstan says.
“The cameras allow us to readily identify incidents or situations developing at an early stage.” This is an excellent joint strategy between Police, Council and inner city businesses.

Lower Hutt Police continue to provide a multi-agency approach to family violence. “We know who our repeat offenders and victims of family violence are. We work with these families to put in place agreed action plans that aim to reduce the presence of violence. These measures and improved scene investigation by frontline staff mean offenders can expect to be held accountable for their actions.”

Mr Dunstan urges the public to play a role in driving down crime by contacting police immediately when they see suspicious behavior. “Crime is intolerable, help us to reduce it.”

Media contact: Inspector Bruce Dunstan, phone 04 560