Increase in crime down to more reporting

An increase in recorded crime in the Central Police District has been has been partly caused by "a blip" from greater reporting of sexual violence and greater trust in police.

Annual police statistics for 2013, released yesterday, showed recorded offences in the Central District were up 1.6 per cent from 27,575 in 2012 to 28,006. The Manawatu area showed a 3.3 per cent increase, from 14,425 to 14,907.

Central District Commander Superintendent Russell Gibson said the 1.6 per cent increase in the Central District was "a blip" and minor in comparison to the work going on long term.

"In 1996 we reported somewhere in the vicinity of 46,500 offences in the same district so that is a significant trend downwards," he said. "I think the trends we have seen in previous years will continue.

"We've had blips in previous years where we've had slight increases, and a 1 per cent increase, when you look at that significant reduction over all those years, is minor and we will return to our ever-decreasing crime levels across the entire district where people feel safe and are safe."

Gibson said the most significant growing problem for the Manawatu, Taranaki, Ruapehu and Whanganui areas was sexual assaults.

"It's seen an increase of about 103 offences," he said.

"I don't think that is necessarily an increase in offending, but due to increased trust and confidence in the way we deal with matters of that nature, which is prompting women to have the confidence to come forward.

"We know offences of that nature are grossly under reported and seeing an increase is a positive thing because it shows people are prepared to come forward."

Labour's police spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said the national resolution rate dropped from 53.8 per cent to 51.8 per cent.

"While we want to see trust and greater reporting, people's inclination to report is sometimes determined by the response they receive," she said. "So it's important we invest in training for police but also that they are resourced to improve resolution rates.

"If we want people to keep reporting, they need to feel like they get a good response from police."

In the Manawatu area, reports of sexual assaults increased 40.4 per cent, with 146 offences in 2013 compared to 104 in 2012.

Increases were seen in abduction and harassment offences (32.3 per cent), robbery and extortion-related offences (18.4 per cent), and theft (8.1 per cent).

There were fewer acts intended to cause injury (5 per cent), dangerous or negligent acts endangering people (45.7 per cent), and illicit drug offences (18.7 per cent) last year.

Acting Manawatu area commander Detective Inspector Chris Bensemann said while he was not pleased with the slight rise in crime, the goal was to drill deeper into specific crime areas and look where police could focus prevention activities.

Police also wanted to improve its relations with partner agencies in the communities, he said.

Manawatu Standard