Police prevention strategy helps keep crime rates down

ALANA DIXON
Last updated 05:00 03/04/2012

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The amount of crime in Queenstown and Central Otago has followed the downward trend in statistics throughout the country.

Figures issued by the New Zealand Police yesterday show the total recorded crime in rural Otago – which includes Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago, and Waitaki – fell by 17.3 per cent, with the total number of offences dropping from 5295 in 2010 to 4902 in 2011.

Otago Rural area commander Inspector Mike Cook said he was pleased with the results. "They represent some good hard work by our staff and by our communities, and so we're just looking build on those results as well."

This was the third year in a row Otago Rural had recorded a decrease in crime, and the recently-introduced Prevention First strategy, which took a more proactive approach rather than a reactive approach to policing, had played a role in that, he said.

"I think we're definitely starting to see some benefits from taking a proactive approach. Quite clearly if we can target our resources and people into the areas that need it ... that has that flow-on effect of stopping those crimes in the first place."

While crime was on the decrease, any crime involving violent offending was always a concern, and it was an area police would continue to target, he said.

The number of offences classed as acts intended to cause injury continued to decline, going from 648 in 2010 to 551 in 2011, a decrease of 15.0 per cent.

Theft rates and related offences also declined, falling by 15.5 per cent (1538 offences to 1299) as did offences related to property damage, which were down 12.7 per cent from the previous year (959 down from 1098).

Reported crime in the Dunedin-Clutha policing area also recorded a drop in 2011, with 13.0 per cent less than in the previous year.

Dunedin-Clutha area commander Inspector Greg Sparrow said more than 1500 fewer offences than in 2010 meant fewer victims of crime.

The number of reported assaults fell by 9.9 per cent, dropping from 1322 offences in 2010 to 1193 in 2011.

Although the total number of assaults had fallen, reported family violence still remained relatively high, he said.

"Our strategy is a positive action approach, meaning that we will always take action of some kind ... We will arrest and/or remove offenders for a `cooling-off' period and then work with other agencies and organisations to help develop sustainable solutions for families to move forward."

Southland also recorded a decrease in crime, with the total number of reported offences falling from 8790 in 2010 to 7874 in 2011 – a reduction of 10.4 per cent.

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- The Southland Times

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