Monday, 3 April 2006 - 10:01am |

Calendar year crime drops in Wellington Police District

8 min read

Total recorded crime dropped 3.9 percent or 1673 offences in the Wellington Police District for the 12 months ending December 2005.

Calendar year figures released today show a significant drop in dishonesty offending, particularly in burglary and theft, as the main reason for the fall.

Superintendent Rob Pope, Wellington District Commander, says the overall figures are pleasing and reflect the hard work police have been making, especially in burglary reduction.

"We've put an energetic and proactive effort across the district into reducing burglaries, through better use of Intel, specialist squads, the targeting of known burglars and improving the way we handle burglary complaints," he says. "Burglars are finding it harder to commit or get away with these crimes.

"Receiving offences have dropped 40 percent, a reflection of the police focus and changes to the Secondhand Dealer's Act. It's now harder for burglars to sell stolen property. Unfortunately the pressure on burglars, and the release of several recidivist professional car crime offenders from prison has seen an increase in car crime related offending."

Total recorded crime in Wellington District (Wellington City Area, Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Kapiti Mana and the Wairarapa) dropped 1673 offences from 42,887 to 41,214 offences during 2005. The crime resolution rate dropped slightly from 47.2 percent to 46.1 percent in the same period.

Figures for the seven crime categories for Wellington District show:

• Violence went up 11.4 percent or 598 offences to 5837
• Sexual offending fell 3.1 percent or 10 offences to 315
• Drugs and anti social offending dropped 5.2 percent or 260 offences to 4765
• Property damage rose 6.2 percent or 304 offences to 5188
• Property abuses fell 8.8 percent or 164 offences to 1710
• Administrative offences rose 2.4 percent or 39 offences to 1634.

Total crime dropped in four of the five Areas in the Wellington District:

• Wellington City Area down 5.7 percent or 944 offences to 15,568
• Kapiti Mana down 1.9 percent or 160 offences to 8326
• Lower Hutt down 8.6 percent or 870 offences to 9286
• Wairarapa down 2.0 percent or 84 offences to 4048
• Upper Hutt offending went up 10.7 percent or 385 offences to 3986.

"Violent offending levels have gone up across the Wellington District but some of this can be attributed to the proactive stance police are taking when dealing with violence in the home or on the street.

"Violence is unacceptable in any form," Superintendent Pope says. "High visibility policing through targeted operations is helping to suppress street violence, especially in Wellington city and Lower Hutt."

Superintendent Pope says the police performance in continuing to drive down crime levels was particularly good in the first half of the year but fell away in the latter six months.

"Sustaining the near 13 percent reduction we made in the last fiscal year was always going to be difficult but it's a challenge we're not shying away from.

"We're continuing to develop and refine our strategies, including the District's crime reporting desk initiative which came on line at the end of last year," Superintendent Pope says. "The desk, although based at Lower Hutt, operates around the clock and has been introduced incrementally across each of the Areas.

"The desk concept is designed to improve our levels of service in the taking of complaints from crime victims, especially for burglaries and thefts from cars. Time taken for data to be entered into our information systems is also shortened which means local commanders are better placed to see crime trends as they happen and shift resources accordingly.

"This initiative, combined with the strong desire from staff to detect and prevent crime, and the partnerships we've formed with councils and other agencies, are all working to improve community safety," Superintendent Pope says.

Wellington District and Area statistics are on the Statistics New Zealand website, and the New Zealand Police internet site.

Area Highlights follow:

Lower Hutt leads District in crime reduction

Lower Hutt's 8.6 percent crime reduction is the best in the Wellington District and extremely pleasing for Lower Hutt police staff and the community, says Inspector Bruce Dunstan, Area Commander.

A total of 9286 offences were recorded last year, down 870 offences compared with the 2004 calendar year. Crime dropped in six of the seven categories with dishonesty offending down 11.7 percent or 669 offences to a new four-year low of 5035 offences.

"We have no doubt that victims report when their home has been burgled so to see burglaries further reduce by over 200 offences is fantastic," Inspector Dunstan says. "That's 200 less families or businesses who had to go through the personal trauma of feeling violated and replace personal belongings with insurance claims."

The burglary clearance rate has steadily increased to 21.2 percent.

"Thefts too are down but unfortunately car conversion etc has risen by 151 offences. This is an on-going challenge for us as we work with key partners to make car parks safer and continue to target mobile vehicle offenders."

Inspector Dunstan says car owners can also help protect their property by locking their vehicles and installing approved alarms. These strategies, along with not leaving attractive items like laptops, digital cameras, cellphones or MP3 players on seats, will also help minimise the risk of cars being broken into and items stolen.

The decline in disorder offending is attributed to the police and Hutt City Council crime cameras which monitor activity in the CBD, and when combined with stricter enforcement of licenced premises, helps keep the city area safer.
Sale of Liquor Act offences rose by over 100 percent on the previous year.

Serious assaults went up by 59 offences which is a concern, however police are pleased that sexual offending has decreased.

Inspector Dunstan says police achieved the overall decrease in recorded crime through the hard work of staff and the success of the Hutt-CRIM policing model. Key managers meet daily to review crime levels and plan immediate action, fortnightly tactical meetings and three-monthly crime forecasts which results in better informed and directed staff.

Input from key partners including the council, Victim Support, Women's Refuge, community groups, Iwi, CYFS, Probation Service, Corrections and Courts also helps in the collaborative effort to reduce crime.

Wellington pushes burglary strategy

An improved and coordinated response to burglary has been the catalyst for Wellington City Area's 5.7 percent reduction in total crime.

Both domestic and commercial burglaries have drastically reduced - down 40.2 percent or 942 offences to a new four-year low of 1404 offences.

Inspector Peter Cowan, Wellington City Area Commander, says the specialist response to burglary investigation is a winner for police, and for the hundreds of people who have not had their homes or businesses broken into.

Total recorded crime dropped 5.7 percent or 944 offences to 15,568 offences - a new four-year low.

Drugs and Anti Social offending dropped 14.6 percent or 305 offences to 1778, and property abuses went down 16.2 percent or 105 offences to 545.

Inspector Cowan says the Wellington City Council liquor ban has been very beneficial in providing police with the opportunity to focus on alcohol related offending before it escalates.

"Violent offending is however still a concern and one we continue to address through Operation Hurricane, targeting inner city crime hotspots and redeploying staff," Inspector Cowan says.

Burglary results please Kapiti Mana Area Police

Total recorded crime in Kapiti Mana dropped nearly 2 percent - down 160 offences to 8326 offences.

Inspector John Spence says the near 22 percent drop in burglaries is great news for the community with domestic and commercial burglaries falling 260 offences to a new low of 925.

"We've changed our tactics to have a more coordinated approach to burglaries in the last 18 months and this is paying dividends," he says.

Car crime however has gone up 22.5 percent or 91 offences with organised groups stealing cars responsible for most of this activity. Operations in Kapiti in the last six months have led to arrests and the recovery of large amounts of stolen property. Further operations across the Area are planned in the next six to 12 months.

Inspector Spence says police are concerned at the levels of violent crime - a 16.9 percent increase. "Attacks in the home and increased police reporting of domestic violence are reflected in the figures," he says.

"Police and partner agencies are determined to reduce violence in the home and we're working together targeting the Area's most violent families, supporting victims and putting the offenders before the court."

Property damage went up 11.3 percent to 1500 offences during the year and most of the offending related to tagging.

"Tagging is one of the most frustrating crimes to deal with," Inspector Spence says. "A pilot project in schools in Cannons Creek has been very successful with the damage bill in some of these schools decreasing by up to 50 percent.

"We're also part of the dedicated Graffiti Action Team led by the Porirua City Council and this has led to a dramatic reduction in tagging seen in the city centre.

"Kapiti police have also been active in targeting taggers. There's still a lot of work to do in getting rid of this unsightly and expensive vandalism."

Great results for Wairarapa police

A 2 percent drop in total recorded crime and a 4.1 percent increase in the resolution rate to 54.8 percent is excellent news for Wairarapa Police and the community, says Inspector John Johnston, Area Commander.

"Ten years ago Wairarapa police arrested 1000 people, now our hard working staff arrest nearly 1800 people a year so to achieve these results is excellent."

Inspector Johnston says he's particularly pleased with the 8.9 percent drop in dishonesty offending - down 158 offences to a new low of 1611.

He says council and community relationships have been instrumental in achieving the results.

"Close circuit tv cameras in Masterton alone assisted in the detection of 224 offences last year. There were a further 92 people arrested for breaching the liquor ban in Masterton and this has had a flow on effect in reducing serious violence in the CBD."

He says police have also concentrated on "basic policing" - targeting key criminal, hot spot crime areas and crime types. Bail and curfew checks have also been a focus to curtail offender activity.

"We also have a strong emphasis on family violence and the new inter-agency Family Safety Team complements the work already being undertaken by police in this area."

Challenges ahead for Upper Hutt

Turning around a 10.7 percent rise in crime is the big challenge for Upper Hutt Police, says Inspector Brett Kane, Area Commander.

Total recorded crime went up by 385 offences to 3986. Crime resolution increased from 47.8 percent to 50 percent.

Violent crime was the main driver with a 47.2 percent increase - up 210 offences to 655. Domestic violence however accounted for 36 percent of these offences.

"Violence is unacceptable in any form," Inspector Kane says. "We are working closely with partners in tackling domestic violence, improving our recording processes and encouraging victims to report offences to us."

Last year 238 family violence offences were recorded compared with 113 in the same period in 2004.

Increases in burglary, theft - particularly thefts from cars - and wilful damage were also a concern.