Pressure to lower stats - MP

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 09/07/2014

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Police were under government orders to "minimise" the number of domestic violence charges they lay to make crime statistics look good, Labour MP Andrew Little claimed yesterday.

But the claim has been strongly denied by both police bosses and the Government.

Family violence figures released yesterday by the University of Auckland's Family Violence Clearinghouse show police charges for domestic violence offences dropped by up to 29 per cent from 2009/10 to last year.

And for the same period, the number of offences recorded by police fell by nearly 10,000.

But the number of investigations into family violence grew from 86,800 in 2010 to 95,100 incidents last year.

Little, a list MP and New Plymouth's Labour Party candidate, said he believed the drop in family violence charges was due to the Government putting direct pressure on police to lower the crime statistics.

"What I have been told authoritatively is that front line police have been told to minimise the number of charges they lay.

"That is not just family violence but across the board. I'm told it's not just domestic violence, it's all forms of offending.

"I think that a combination of that and using police safety orders is what is showing up in the reduced number of charges in relation to domestic violence," Little said.

New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young said Little's claim that the New Zealand police were turning a blind eye to crime were "incorrect and outrageous".

"Obviously he doesn't know the New Plymouth police force. From my experience, they are hard-working, committed to stopping crime and ensuring we live in safe communities here in Taranaki.

"The reduction in crime across the country is the lowest it's been in 35 years with reported crime dropping 20 per cent in the last four years. It is something we can be proud of, not ashamed of.

"We need to support our police force, not undermine them. Our communities' respect for the police is fundamental for the upholding of law and order in our communities and such criticisms are unhelpful and unfounded."

NZFVC research fellow Pauline Gulliver said that while the number of police safety orders being issued had increased every year since they were introduced in 2010, over the same period there had been a reduction in the number of applications for protection orders.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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