Christchurch school crime drops by a third

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 28/12/2012

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Christchurch's post-earthquake Blitz spirit could be behind a one-third drop in the crime rate in schools, principals say.

Statistics released to The Press under the Official Information Act reveal offending in the city's schools dropped almost 30 per cent over the past three years, from 1118 instances in 2009-10 to 800 in 2011-12.

Principals say it could be related to the sense of community spirit and survival after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

Shirley Boys' High School principal John Laurenson said post-quake Christchurch was similar to Blitz-era London during World War II.

"One thing they were aware of then was crimes, assaults fell away dramatically," he said.

"At the time of the earthquakes the focus was much more on survival, helping neighbours, digging liquefaction.

"I have a feeling a lot of crime falling, especially the ones associated with adolescent boys and girls, is to do with them being busy and purposeful.

"Also, the exam results were hugely improved in Christchurch last year."

Hornby High principal Richard Edmundson said schools had been a source of stability during the quakes, and many pupils now valued the school more.

"It's not a small step to hope, therefore, that because pupils are valuing the school and because the community is valuing the school that crime will fall," he said.

Hornby runs a process that helps at-risk pupils find alternative ways of coping and working through issues. "When things do go wrong, the aim is to try to put it right in a meaningful way," Edmundson said.

Theft, the most common offence police dealt with this year, has dropped from 458 incidents two years ago to 321 in 2011-12.

Breaking and entering and burglary rates have fallen from 172 incidents in 2009-10 to 109 this year.

Property damage has plummeted from 293 cases in 2009-10 to 236 in 2011-12 and down to 185 this year.

Police planning and performance group acting national manager, Rachael Bambery, said police did not collate data for offences at individual schools but provided a breakdown of responses from Christchurch police stations to schools and universities.

In 2011-12, police attended 10 cases of sexual assaults and related offences and 11 cases of abduction and harassment across the city. The numbers are similar to the past two years, when police responded to 11 sexual assaults and related offences in 2009-10 and eight in 2010-11.

Abduction-harassment dropped from 14 cases in 2009-10 and 17 incidents in 2010-11. The most crime-prone areas were Papanui and the surrounding suburbs, where officers responded to 187 incidents. But that had fallen from 257 callouts two years ago and 211 last year.

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Hornby police had 157 callouts, and Christchurch Central responded to 132 this year.

- The Press

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