Recorded crime rose 1.2 percent in the 2008 calendar year with the increase mainly reflecting the growth in New Zealand's population over the same period.
Statistics released today show that there were 431,381 offences in 2008, compared with 426,380 in 2007. When adjusted to take into account the increase in New Zealand's population last year, recorded offences per 10,000 people increased by only 0.2%.
Overall six districts recorded increases in recorded offences while six experienced a fall. Auckland City recorded the biggest decrease with 4% fewer offences last year.
Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls, Police National Headquarters, said Police were pleased to note that the national resolution rate for total crime is at its highest level in a decade, at 46.7%.
An extra 6654 offences were resolved in 2008 compared with the previous year, with resolution rates increasing in most areas.
Assistant Commissioner Nicholls said violent crime increased by 5.2 percent last year, compared with a 12.3% increase in 2007. All districts except Waitemata, where recorded violent crime dropped 1.1 percent, experienced a rise. The greatest increases were Eastern (14.5 percent), Waikato (11.8 percent), Southern (10 percent) and Canterbury (9.7 percent).
The 5.2 percent rise in overall recorded violence was driven by recorded family violence which increased by 12.4 percent. This followed a 31.5 percent increase in recorded family violence in 2007 after the roll-out of mandatory training for all frontline police staff in family violence investigation and risk assessment.
Inter-agency media campaigns including 'It's Not OK' and White Ribbon Day have also promoted greater community awareness of and intolerance to family violence, Assistant Commissioner Nicholls said.
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There were 109 homicides recorded in 2008, compared with 88 in 2007. Within this category there were 52 murders and 35 offences of attempted murder. The average number of homicides across the last decade was 101, and the average number for murders across the same period was 50 per year.
Assistant Commissioner Nicholls said there were 13 recorded family violence murders in 2008 compared with 15 in 2007, 16 in 2006 and a peak of 29 in 2005.
The homicide category includes attempted murder, illegal abortions, infanticide, accessory after the fact, aiding suicide and manslaughter. Contributing to the increase in recorded homicides last year was an increase in family violence and attempted murders - up from 9 to 18. There were also 6 recorded offences of Accessory After the Fact of Murder, which contributed to the increase in recorded homicides.
"Any violent death is one too many as far as police are concerned," Assistant Commissioner Nicholls said.
Resolution rates for violence continue to rise, with 81.8% offences resolved. The resolution rate for murder remains very high at 96.2%.
Sexual offending rose by 3.3% overall last year, with 3705 offences recorded compared with 3585 the year before.
Sexual offending continues to make up less than 1% of recorded crime, and issues of under-reporting remain.
The resolution rate for sexual offences continues to rise, with a rate of 65.1% last year compared with 62.5% in 2007.
Drugs and anti-social offences
Drugs and anti-social offences increased 4.2% in 2008, mainly driven by a rise in recorded cannabis offences. Cannabis offences went up 10.8% or 1611 offences to 16,464. Within this figure was a 56% increase in possession for supply offences (1117).
"The increase in recorded cannabis offences was experienced across the country, rather than one or two particular districts," said Mr Nicholls.
Offences for drugs (amphetamines, ecstasy and fantasy type substances) continues to gradually decline (-4.6% in 2008).
Sale of Liquor Act offences continued to rise, although the increase - up 7.3 percent (up 715 offences to 10,529). Liquor ban breaches drove much of the increase in this category.
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There has been a small decrease in recorded offences in this category
(-0.9%) driven mainly by reductions in car conversion, theft and receiving offences.
However there has been an increase in fraud offences (+18.9%) - up from 11,350 in 2007 to 13,494 last year.
House burglaries went up 4.3 percent with only Waikato and Northland Districts recording decreases. Several factors contributed to the rise including administrative changes in how burglaries are recorded.
"We continue to make good use of information to target burglars and put the pressure on them," Assistant Commissioner Nicholls said. "People can also help make their homes more secure by following some simple crime prevention advice including the installation of alarms along with good door and window locks."
Offences for property damage rose by 2.6% in 2008. However, the long term rise in this category appears to be slowing (12.0% in 2006, 8.5% in 2007). Graffiti continues to be thought the most likely driver for the increase.
Contact: Media Relations, Police National Headquarters,
Telephone: 04 474 9482, 04 474 8856, 04 474 9476 or 04 460 2986.
The full statistics (National, by District and by Area) are available on the New Zealand Police website: www.police.govt.nz/about-us/publications/statistics and also on the Statistics New Zealand website: www.stats.govt.nz