A burglary reported every 7 minutes as recorded crime rate jumps

Police Minister Paula Bennett says the rise in crime is concerning, but the new officers are a step in the right direction.
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Police Minister Paula Bennett says the rise in crime is concerning, but the new officers are a step in the right direction.

Recorded crime rose last year, with a burglary now being reported on average every seven minutes.

The real crime rate was higher, but it's a matter of contention whether Kiwis have become more or less likely to report offences lately.

The new data emerged as the Government announced plans to hire more than 1000 extra police staff members over the next four years.

The Government's promise of more officers is better late than never, but recruitment challenges remain, Police ...
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

The Government's promise of more officers is better late than never, but recruitment challenges remain, Police Association president Chris Cahill says.

Police Minister Paula Bennett said she was concerned to see crime rising again, after a 22 per cent drop between 2009 and 2014.

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"The addition of 1125 new staff members will focus on family violence, burglaries, organised crime and drugs, gangs, serious assault and safety in our rural communities," she said on Tuesday.

Labour MP Stuart Nash, who spent much of last year calling for new cops, says meth is a big driver of the surge in ...
ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Labour MP Stuart Nash, who spent much of last year calling for new cops, says meth is a big driver of the surge in burglaries.

Police Association president Chris Cahill said the latest crime figures reinforced much of what officers were telling him, and that last week's announcement of more staff was better than nothing.

"Ideally, we could've had [additional police] sooner."

Burglaries jumped 16 per cent last year nationwide to 74,182.

Jo Wyatt and Derek Butcher were burgled in June. Wyatt says the crime's unsolved but police have done everything they can.
SUPPLIED

Jo Wyatt and Derek Butcher were burgled in June. Wyatt says the crime's unsolved but police have done everything they can.

The Taranaki, Nelson Bays, Hawke's Bay and Waikato East areas recorded the biggest jumps in overall crime. Wellington, Auckland City and Canterbury bucked the trend, but crime rose in all nine other districts. 

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Parts of the Far North and the East Coast, where crime also increased, had trouble recruiting new staff.

"Anecdotally, we are getting reports from our members in these areas that they're much busier," Cahill said.

The Government said its "Safer Communities" package would include 240 specialist officers .

"From 2009 to 2014, crime dropped 22 per cent so it is a concern to see it start to rise again," Bennett said.

METH BLAMED

Methamphetamine was driving the rise in burglaries, Labour police spokesman Stuart Nash said.

"What we need to do is put a lot more into community policing, and a lot more resources into organised crime."

Organised crime experts would need to tackle foreign criminals, including triads, as well as homegrown gangs.

"The future for policing, for me, is officers being more specialist."

Nash said there was probably more unreported crime last year than in 2015.

UNREPORTED CRIME

Victoria University criminologist Trevor Bradley said official statistics excluded the "unknown and largely unknowable" number of unreported crimes.

But he said extensive media and political discussions on burglaries lately could have made people more likely to report break-ins.

People in poor areas who were uninsured still had few incentives to report them.

Meanwhile, domestic violence and sexual violence remained heavily under-reported, Bradley said.

Police had faced challenges in recruiting staff to certain rural areas, deputy chief executive Kaye Ryan said, but were aiming to better engage with these communities.

'THEY TOOK WHAT THEY CAME FOR'

For Jo Wyatt, being burgled at her home in Whangarei last June was unpleasant, but it reinforced her views on safety and security, rather than making her paranoid.

"They took what they came for, and that was the jewellery."

Wyatt said police had been in touch several times and probably done all they could, though she didn't expect the crime to be solved.

"If they're not putting in the effort, they shouldn't be wearing the uniform," she said.

"Most people do realise the police do everything in their power ... There can be some terrible things they deal with that the public doesn't know about."

A police spokeswoman said: "There are many drivers of crime, so it would be unwise to try and attribute an increase in a certain crime type to a single factor."

Factors included changes in an offender's personal circumstances, drug and alcohol habits, or opportunistic crooks targeting insecure properties.

Police admitted they were concerned about the rise in burglaries, but said they had given burglary responses a higher priority.

 

 - Stuff

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