Tuesday, 1 October 2013 - 10:54am |

Canterbury crime 20 percent below pre-quake levels

3 min read

Recorded crime in the Canterbury Police District remains well below pre-earthquake levels, and is only slowly increasing from record low figures in the past two years.

Crime figures released today, covering the 2012/13 financial year, show a total of 42,722 offences were recorded in Canterbury for the 12 months to 30 June 2013, 5.4 percent higher than in 2011/12 - but still 20.5 percent lower than in 2009/10.

Adjusted for population changes, the figures show recorded crime at 20 percent below pre-quake levels, at 773.3 offences per 10,000 population compared to 965.1 in 2009/10.

While overall crime increased slightly, the proportion of crime resolved remained essentially unchanged at 44.8 percent, compared to 45 percent in 2011/12.

The modest increase in total recorded crime comes after an unprecedented drop in recorded offending during the Canterbury earthquake sequence of 2010 and 2011. The district's total recorded crime figure fell from 53,755 in 2009/10 to 45,904 in 2010/11 - a drop of 15 percent, then fell by a further 11.7 percent to 40,522 in 2011/12.

District Commander Superintendent Gary Knowles says it was anticipated that there would be a rise in crime figures, following the anomaly of the post-earthquake decline.

"The good news is that despite the small increase this year, recorded crime is well below the levels of three years ago," he says.

"Our challenge is to maintain the positive gains we've made in the post-earthquake environment through more proactive policing and a focus on crime prevention."

The 2012/13 figures show that the profile of criminal offending in Canterbury is relatively unchanged from previous years: theft and related offences make up the majority of recorded crime, at 32 percent, followed by property damage related offences (15.6%), burglary-related offences (13.3%), public order offences (13.1%) and acts intended to cause injury (8.7%).

Theft and related offences increased by 4.2 percent, from 13,131 to 13,682 - but remain 28 percent below 2009/10 levels. Within that category, motor vehicle theft offences increased by 8.3 percent from 5670 to 6140 but are still 29 percent lower than in 2009/10, and are continuing a long-term decline.

Property damage offences increased by 6.4 percent from 6271 to 6671- but remain 27 percent below 2009/10 levels.

Unlawful entry and burglary increased by just 2.8 percent from 5538 to 5694 - and remain 20 percent below 2009/10 levels. Overall, burglary offending rates are continuing a steady decline since 1999/2000.

Fraud-related offences recorded a decrease, dropping 8.5 percent from 1132 to 1036 offences.

Four murders were recorded during the year, substantially lower than the 10 recorded during 2011/12.

Other results included:

• Assaults (3,711) were 5.5 percent higher than in 2011/12 (3,517) but 8.3% lower than in 2009/10 (4,046).
• 174 robbery offences were recorded, an increase of 8.8 percent on 2011/12, but 32.6 percent below 2009/10 levels (258).
• Weapons related offences (611) were 4.6 percent higher than in 2011/12 (584), but 20.8 percent lower than in 2009/10 (771).

Regulated public order offences increased substantially, from 975 in 2011/12 to 1814 in 2012/13, an increase of 86.1 percent. Superintendent Knowles says this figure includes offences for breach of liquor bans, which have been extended to several additional parts of Christchurch city in the past two years.

"This is a positive result and reflects the proactive approach we're taking towards reducing alcohol-related harm - which remains a huge contributor to crime. Every apprehension for breach of a liquor ban is potentially preventing a much more serious offence further down the line."

Sexual assault offences recorded an increase of 24.7 percent, from 368 to 459. This continues an increasing trend since 2009. 

Superintendent Knowles says the increase does not necessarily indicate that more offending is occurring. "A major factor in these numbers is the fact that victims are increasingly coming forward to report historical offending - that's very encouraging.

"Police and our partner agencies have put a great deal of effort into raising community awareness of domestic violence, and Police have also focused on improving the way we support victims and prioritise and investigate this type of offending."

A breakdown of the statistics across the district, based on the previous Canterbury District structure, shows that the Mid-South Canterbury Area, which covers Timaru, Ashburton and rural Mid- and South Canterbury, recorded a 14.1 percent reduction in crime, from 5994 in 2011/12 to 5151 in 2012/13,

Significant decreases were recorded in acts intended to cause injury (down 18.8%), burglary-related offences (down 15.3%) and fraud-related offences (down 40.9%).

In Christchurch, recorded crime in Christchurch Central continued to be significantly reduced as a result of post-earthquake depopulation. Recorded offences in Christchurch Central (10,272 offences) were up by 15.1 percent on 2011/12 (8,926) but still 34 percent below 2009/10 levels (15,670).

In the Northern Area 2012/13 offences (14,731) were 8.3 percent up on 2011/12 (13,600) but remain 14.2 percent down on 2009/10 (17,168).

The Southern area recorded 12,568 offences in 2012/13, 4.7 percent higher than in 2011/12, but 8.4 percent below 2009/10 levels (13,726).

[Note: The former Central, Northern and Southern Areas are now combined in the new Christchurch Area.]


Detailed crime statistics are available at