More sex crimes mar rosy figures
Crime in Southland has dropped by 8.9 per cent in the last year, but sexual assaults have increased by more than 60 per cent and social networking has added to the risk, experts say.
Police statistics made public yesterday said the total number of recorded offences in Southland dropped from 8393 in the 2011 financial year to 7648 this year.
However, sexual assault and related offences increased from 55 to 89 - a 61.8 per cent increase.
Sixty-three of the 89 recorded offences had been resolved, police figures show.
Southland Rape and Abuse Support Centre manager Susana Lepoamo said the figures reflected its increased workload.
The centre had received 124 new clients in the 2011-12 financial year; up from 80 new clients the previous year.
Ms Lepoamo, in consultation with staff members, said more than 80 per cent of offenders were known to their victims, but that was potentially changing with technology.
Trends showed young people were becoming more vulnerable to people who used social networking sites.
The access to potential victims was greater, and easier access to pornography on computers could encourage an appetite for potentially harmful sexual behaviour, she said.
Social media was sexually charged, including music, MTV and fashion, which was confusing in terms of sexual identity and clear boundaries, she said.
Other risk factors of sexual assaults included alcohol and drugs, and cellphones.
Invercargill lawyer Hugo Young said there had been a steady increase in sex-related court cases in the past several years involving multiple complainants.
Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Bowman, of Invercargill, said the increase in sex-related offences could be attributed to more victims coming forward.
Authorities were putting a larger focus on victims and giving them advice to prevent them being victims a second time.
Police encouraged people to drink safely and look after each other, he said.
Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd said an ongoing decrease in crime over the past three years meant fewer victims and safer communities.
The Southland area had implemented a proactive policing model and work was under way in introducing prevention plans to further improve the results.
Police were more focused on victims and preventing crime before it occurred.
Police were also encouraging people to secure their vehicles after a spike in theft from vehicles in the city.
Earlier closing times at licensed premises in the Invercargill central business district continued to have a positive impact with an overall reduction of total offending in the CBD.
Total crime across the southern district last year, which included Dunedin and Otago rural, was down 11.2 per cent from 24,933 to 22,133 and the percentage of crimes solved had increased from 54.5 per cent in the year ended June 30, 2011 to 56 per cent in this financial year, figures show.
SOUTHLAND AREA CRIME STATISTICS
The number of recorded offences has dropped from 8393 in the 2011 financial year to 7648 this year – an 8.9 per cent decrease.
Homicide and related offences down from 2 to 1
Acts intended to cause injury down from 1014 to 997
Sexual assault and related offences up from 55 to 89
Dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons up from 32 to 45
Abduction, harassment and other related offences against a person down from 324 to 275
Robbery, extortion and related offences remain the same at 15
Unlawful entry with intent/burglary, breaking and entering down from 813 to 724
Theft and related offences down from 2243 to 1987
Fraud, deception and related offences down from 260 to 209
Illicit drug offences down from 567 to 397
Prohibited and regulated weapons and explosives offences down from 191 to 171
Property damage and environmental pollution down from 1601 to 1452
Public order offences up from 938 to 971
Offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations down from 304 to 271
Miscellaneous offences up from 34 to 44
Source: NZ Police
- © Fairfax NZ News
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