Monday, 1 October 2007 - 4:33pm |

Community safety top priority

3 min read

Greater community engagement combined with proactive policing and strong partnerships with local agencies is the key to improving safety in the home and on the streets, Superintendent Pieri Munro, Wellington Police District Commander, said today.

"Reducing the opportunity for crime to happen and encouraging people to report offending when it happens, is critical to community safety," he said. "By working together we can make it harder for offending to go unnoticed."

Superintendent Munro said violence and dishonesty offending were the key drivers for the overall 6.9 percent rise in recorded crime in the Wellington Police District for the 12 months ending June 2007.

Statistics released today show that total recorded crime went up 2900 offences in the year from 42,199 to 45,099. A total of 19,580 offences were resolved compared with 19,393 in the corresponding 2005/2006 year.

Dishonesty offending rose 8.7 percent (up 1939 offences to 24,326); violence rose 9.3 percent (up 558 offences to 6546); drugs and anti social offending rose 8.2 percent (up 396 offences to 5243) and sexual offending increased by 5.5 percent (up 19 offences to 364).

Upper Hutt and Wairarapa were the two Areas within the district to record decreases in crime - down 7 percent and 2.8 percent respectively.

Recorded crime rose in Wellington City Police Area by 12 percent (up 1998 offences to 18,176); by 10 percent in Lower Hutt (up 931 offences to 10,320) and by 4 percent in Kapiti Mana (up 365 offences to 8817).

Superintendent Munro said dominating the 1939 more dishonesty offences for the year was the 20 percent rise in theft ex cars - up 1099 offences to 6662 across Wellington District.

"Offenders are switching their attention from the more difficult burglaries to stealing property from parked cars," he said. "They see at a glance that valuable items such as MP3 players, stereos, cameras and laptops are visible and force locks or windows to get in.

"They're into the vehicle within minutes and usually leave unnoticed, especially if vehicles have been parked relatively insecurely."

Superintendent Munro said police patrols target key offending areas, and continue to work closely with councils, carpark building providers and owners of other places where large numbers of cars are parked.

"Street and security lighting can only do so much," he said. "Car owners can do a lot more to make their property safer by not leaving valuable items on display. If you can't secure the item, take it with you."

Superintendent Munro said the increase in violence - up 558 offences to 6546 - is in part attributable to a stronger focus on family violence and the success of high impact police operations in the street. Eighty two percent or 5373 violence offences were resolved.

Targeting patrols to key locations has helped nip more serious crime in the bud, he said.

Intimidation and threatening behaviour was one of the key drivers for violence (up 212 offences to 1609), nearly half of which were for threatening behaviour of language offences.

An extra 156 serious assaults were recorded of which more than half were for male assaults female. Grievous assaults went up by 112, of which 62 were assaults with a weapon.

Superintendent Munro said the increased police resources during the year meant five extra staff were put into Wellington City's Strategic Response Group. "This additional capability as well as our general targeted patrols in at risk areas has made us more effective in targeting alcohol fuelled violence and other disorder.

He said each of the five Areas within the District were making very good use of liquor bans, working in tandem with local councils to suppress alcohol related offending.

"There's some excellent work being done with our partners to help make our homes and streets safer places to be," Superintendent Munro said. "Police officers have run several dedicated operations during the last 12 months targeting alcohol related offending, dishonesty and vehicle crime. There will be more of these to come.

"We are also putting more focus on recognising and recording family violence, which coupled with national campaigns, is leading to a greater awareness of violence in the home."

Superintendent Munro said another initiative is the introduction of new community engagement teams - the first of which is expected to start in Porirua on 15 October. Four new community constables have been appointed to work within the community engagement umbrella, taking an active role in their communities and with high risk families. Additional teams are planned for Lower Hutt and Wellington in the coming months.

"We have had our challenges during the year, including several high profile serious crime investigations such as Operation Red Rocks and Operation Summit, drug operations, major events and the demanding day to day policing business.

"I'm proud of my staff, the work they're doing and their commitment to community safety. There are opportunities for new ways of doing business, including streamlining our own processes and procedures," he said.