Squeeze put on intentional damage

The number of people convicted of damage-related offences has plummeted in the past five years, with southern police attributing the decline to a proactive, prevention approach.

Figures released by the Justice Ministry under the Official Information Act show 939 people, including 816 men and 122 women, have been convicted of intentional damage in the Invercargill District Court in the past five years.

The number dropped from 192 in the 2008-09 financial year to 152 last year.

Convictions remain similar throughout southern courts with men making up most of the figures.

Thirty-two people - 30 men and two women - were convicted in the Gore District Court of intentional damage in the 2012-13 year compared with 39 - 31 men and eight women - five years ago.

Figures also dropped in Alexandra with 20, down from 24, and eight in Balclutha, down from 16.

Figures remained similar across the Queenstown District Court, with 21 this year compared with 25 in each of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 years.

Inspector Olaf Jensen, of Invercargill, attributed the drop in numbers to the prevention approach to policing. The reduction in licensing hours and less availability of alcohol with bars closing at 3am had also been a contributing factor in less damage in the inner city, he said.

Most damage stemmed from drunkenness.

"Reduction in alcohol harm has been a priority and a joint approach with police and both government and non-government organisations. We want our community to be safe and feel safe."

Offenders for damage-related crimes were usually aged 18 to 25 years, he said.

Mr Jensen said the public should immediately report any behaviour or activity they had concerns with.

The Southland Times