A 72 per cent spike in illicit drug dealing and trafficking hasn't stopped New Zealand from recording its lowest reported crime rate in more than 20 years.
Police today released its crime statistics for the year to July 2012, showing overall recorded offences dropped to 394,522 from 416,324 the previous year.
When New Zealand's population increase is taken into account, police said it resulted in a 5.9 per cent decrease.
Police said it was the lowest number of offences since the 1988/1989 year, and the lowest crime rate per head of population since before electronic records had been maintained.
However, figures also show illicit drug offences went up by 5.1 per cent from 20,973 to 22,052 offences.
Police said the increase was driven by a 72.2 per cent rise in dealing and trafficking offences.
There were 798 more recorded crimes for supply and dealing of cannabis, and 532 more for supply and dealing of methamphetamine and amphetamine.
Police said the figures reflected "pro-active targeting of drug dealers".
Deputy Police Commissioner Viv Rickard said the overall figures showed New Zealand was becoming a safer place to live.
"They will act as further motivation to keep our focus firmly on preventing crime before it happens."
He said offences at the less serious end of the spectrum reduced the most.
The largest decrease was in Canterbury District, where recorded crime fell by 11.7 per cent.
Following the Christchurch earthquake there was a 14.3 per cent drop in minor thefts as people shifted out of the CBD and Eastern areas, Rickard said.
"This decrease appears to be partly due to the public not wanting to bother us with minor matters when they knew we were dealing with the earthquake aftermath."
Other significant drops occurred in Southern (11.2 per cent), Counties Manukau (9.4 per cent) and Bay of Plenty (8.6 per cent) districts.
The overall national resolution rate rose slightly, from 47.3 to 47.6 per cent this year.
Homicide and related offending dropped by 20 offences, while the number of murders rose by nine.
Within those figures, there were 20 family violence murders, which is the same number as the previous year.
Sexual offences increased by 121, or 3.6 per cent, while abduction, harassment and other related offences dropped by 1408, or 10.2 per cent.
Rickard said the really pleasing aspect of the drop in the number of overall recorded offences meant fewer people suffered the trauma associated with becoming a victim of crime.
"We all know we're not done yet. But these latest crime statistics provide a very encouraging indicator that our work is paying dividends," he said.
The latest figures also show:
- Acts intended to cause injury, which are mainly assault-related offences, dropped by 6.8 per cent.
- Robbery, extortion and related offences were down by 8 per cent
- Unlawful entry with intent, burglary, break and enter offences fell by 3.4 per cent
- Theft and related offences, which makes up about one third of all recorded offences, dropped by 5.2 per cent.
- Property damage and environmental pollution offences fell by 9.4 per cent.
- Public order offences decreased by 3.5 per cent, but there was a 46.3 per cent rise in Auckland City because of increased enforcement of liquor bans, police said.