Crime in the Waikato dropped seven per cent last year, figures released today show.
Official crime statistics for the 2003 calendar year show an overall drop in crime throughout the Waikato region of seven per cent, down from an increase of two per cent for the previous calendar year. There were 31,075 offences recorded last year, compared to 32,947 the previous year.
Burglaries dropped by 13 per cent, with 630 less burglary victims recorded. Thefts from cars were down 16 per cent, with 3504 offences recorded, compared to 4174 the previous year.
Drug offences increased by 20 per cent. Police say that increase is directly attributable to a rise in methamphetamine crime and a strong focus by police on drug offending. Last year the district recorded 87 methamphetamine offences. This is the first year figures have been kept specifically for those drugs.
Violence offences rose by two per cent and car theft dropped by five per cent, down from a 19 per cent increase the previous year.
Acting Waikato District Commander Inspector Bill Searle says he is extremely pleased with the overall reduction in crime in the region, that he believes has come about through good police work and strong partnerships with the community.
â€œThere is definitely an increased awareness of crime now and people are taking some responsibility to ensure they do not become victims of crime. They are protecting their property and themselves and not creating situations where they could be targetted by criminals. Everyone should get a pat on the back for that.
But despite the favourable crime reduction figures, Mr Searle warned there was no room for complacency.
â€œWhile these figures show we are reducing crime overall and significantly in some areas, we will not be taking anything for granted. We will continue to implement effective crime fighting initiatives, in conjunction with our partners, that have proved workable and successful in this district,â€ Mr Searle said.
Several projects and operations targetting specific areas of crime like thefts from cars and burglary had worked very well and had achieved results. Mr Searle said a heavy concentration on thefts from cars last year had been particularly successful, with a number of offenders convicted. As testament to that, there were 670 less cars broken into during the year.
The police were working closely with partner agencies to develop crime prevention initiatives. A combined project with local councils focussing on crime prevention building design was a good example of that, Mr Searle said.
Police would continue to focus on burglaries, with dedicated teams of police focussing on offenders and crime patterns.
The success and benefits of the various crime reduction strategies and projects undertaken during the year were highlighted by the fact that there were 1872 less victims of crime during the year â€“ â€œsomething which we should all be proud ofâ€, Mr Searle said.
â€œThe aim of any police force is to reduce crime, which will ultimately lead to less victims of crime. If we can drive down the crime rate, then that will obviously filter down to create a safer community.â€
Mr Searle said police staff throughout the district should be acknowledged in the reduction of crime in the region. Specialist teams of police, such as burglary squads, had successfully targetted problem crime areas.
â€œWe have dedicated and hard-working staff of the highest calibre in this district who are all fighting for the same cause. They are committed and passionate. It is heartening to see their efforts being rewarded.â€