A slight drop in overall crime has failed to mask an increase in murders, youth violence and domestic assaults that has police dealing with 16 more violent incidents a day than a year ago.
Police crime statistics for the year ending June 30 reveal 107 more recorded offences than the previous year. Adjusted for the population increase, it means a 1 per cent decrease in recorded crime.
The figures, issued yesterday, show that violent crime jumped 11 per cent, with 54 people murdered - four more than in the previous year, but fewer than the 67 in 2002.
Police resolved 9685 more offences than last year, but recorded 5878 more violent incidents.
The rise in violence was put down to a dramatic 29 per cent increase in reported family violence - which police and the Government said was because the issue was being brought into the public eye as a result of the It's Not Okay campaign against domestic violence.
Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls said police were now better trained to deal with family violence.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said it may not be that there is any more violence in the homes, "but that we are getting to know about it and can then do something about it".
She welcomed the overall drop in the crime rate, while Police Minister Annette King praised police for an increase in the proportion of cases they solved.
"I believe that shows that the way police are working alongside their communities is paying off," Ms King said.
But an increase in youth crime had National Party leader John Key claiming that Labour was letting too many young people "slip through the cracks".
He said the 52 per cent increase in recorded youth crime since 1999, from 3301 to 5029 violent offences, was staggering and had to be addressed.
Methamphetamine offences decreased 18 per cent from a peak two years ago - mostly because of a heavy police focus to crack down on the drug - but general drug and anti-social offences had increased 5.9 per cent.
Nationally, more than half of this increase was because of a 22 per cent increase in breach of liquor bans, Mr Nicholls said.
"In recent years liquor bans have proven to be a highly effective tool in helping curtail public place disorder."
Property damage had significantly increased in the past three years because of graffiti and tagging problems, he said. These were also being recorded more astutely than in the past.
Dishonesty offences, which make up just over half of all offences, reduced 5 per cent.
- The Dominion Post