Police Crime Statistics Reinforce Need to Tackle Drugs and Violence

(PR.co.nz) The priority the Government has placed on tackling drugs and violence has been reinforced by the latest Police crime statistics, Police Minister Judith Collins said.

The 2009 calendar year crime statistics today showed violent offending increased 9.2 percent last year – a rise driven mostly by recorded family violence.

Police resolved 14,199 more offences in 2009 (215,618) than in 2008 (201,419), to increase the national resolution rate from 46.7 percent to 47.8 percent – the highest since electronic records began in 1978.

Total recorded crime per 10,000 people was lower in 2009 than it was a decade ago.

“Police are to be congratulated for solving a record number of crimes in 2009,” Ms Collins said.

Overall, there were 451,405 recorded offences in the 2009 calendar year compared with 431,383 in the previous year, an increase of 4.6 percent (3.6 percent adjusted for population growth).

“These figures show the scale of the problem we are facing in New Zealand. In the 18 months that I have been Police Minister I have been shocked at the level of violent and anti-social behaviour in our society,” Ms Collins said.

“There is a section of our community that has no respect for other people and no respect for the law. We are seeing it in the frequent attacks on Police and innocent members of the public.

“One of the biggest challenges this Government faces will be to unravel the damage that has been done by years of Labour rule. It will take time and a lot of hard work by a host of Government agencies, including Police.

“The crime figures released today show that in areas where the Government has concentrated resources and Police are trialling new approaches to policing, crime statistics are starting to show improvement.”

An increased focus on fighting organised crime and the trade in methamphetamine has seen an increase in drug offences, which were up 19.9 percent in 2009.

“The Government has sent a strong signal to Police that it is time to put organised crime out of business and stop the spread of methamphetamine into our communities,” Ms Collins said.

“This focus is paying off, with an increase in the number of clan labs dismantled, an increase in the number of precursor materials seized and millions of dollars in gang assets seized by Police.”

Since the introduction of the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 in December Police have identified $36 million worth of assets believed to have been obtained through criminal activity.

The Government is on track to deploying an additional 300 officers in Counties Manukau by the end of 2010, and an additional 300 in the rest of the country by the end of 2011.

“The more Police you have, the more rocks they can look under,” Ms Collins said.

What’s been done so far

* The Government has passed 11 new laws (and introduced three more) to toughen sentences, parole and bail for violent offenders, improve police powers, crack down on gangs and P and support crime victims.

* These laws includes tougher penalties for belonging to a criminal organisation, tougher sentences for crimes against children, new powers for Police to intercept gang communications, dismantle gang fortifications and seize property from criminals, as well as allowing police to issue on-the-spot protection orders for victims of domestic violence.

* The Government has budgeted $200 million for an additional 600 frontline police, with more than 200 officers already deployed to the streets of South Auckland.

* Police have been given new tools to go after criminals, including 720 new Tasers and a new power to DNA test offenders arrested for imprisonable offences.

* A new law has been passed that will allow police to crush the cars of repeat street-racing offenders.

* The Government has invested $72.4 million in the Fresh Start programme to turn young offenders away from crime. This will provide the Youth Court with new powers to place young offenders in 3000 new programme places, including new military-style activity camps, mentoring courses, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and outdoor activities.

* A full-scale attack has been launched on methamphetamine. Our plan includes restricting access to the precursor chemicals gangs used to make methamphetamine, new dedicated anti-drug Customs taskforces, a new police strategy to go after gangs and dealers, additional places in drug and alcohol rehab and increased support for families and communities to protect people from this dangerously addictive drug.

* The new strategy is already having considerable success with Police now having $36 million worth of gang assets under investigation.

Media Release 1 April 2010 from Hon Judith Collins, Minister of Police.
Telephone (04)817 6806
Email j.collins@ministers.govt.nz