Crime surge in Christchurch linked to lack of police foot patrols - Labour
Criminals are running rampant across Canterbury due to a decrease in the number of police foot patrols, the Labour party says.
But police say there is no one solution to preventing crime or the cause of it.
Statistics released to Labour through the Official Information Act indicate a crime surge in the region over the past two years.
Drug use was up 36 per cent, burglary up 33 per cent, vehicle theft up 26 per cent and public place assaults up 13 per cent.
In the same period, police foot patrols dropped 16 per cent.
Sandra Payne, 58, was burgled some time between the hours of 4.30pm and 10.30pm on Monday.
Her television and camera were stolen from her Jollie St home, along with prescription medication for migraines.
Payne said she was disappointed police did not respond immediately. Fingerprints were taken on Tuesday.
A tobacco black market was partially to blame for the increase in burglaries in Canterbury – there had been over 6500 this year – but Labour leader Andrew Little said it was obvious there were other factors.
"You can see it in the sort of crimes where we've seen the increase – drug supply and use, burglaries, stolen vehicles – it is the street crime type of offending that we're seeing."
Police resources were becoming "more and more stretched", he said.
"Police tell me that more officers on the street is a strong deterrent to criminals.
"The more police have a presence in an area, it acts as a deterrent and I think foot patrols are a basic community service."
Police Minister Judith Collins said foot patrols were just one of the "preventative actions" police took to combat crime.
"This includes undertaking a variety of patrols, including foot, mobile and targeted patrols, which ensures their staff are deployed in the right place, at the right time, and in the right way to deter crime."
Collins acknowledged current crime numbers were a concern and said police were "working hard to turn these figures around".
Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price said targeting recidivist offenders and organised crime was "complicated" and foot patrols were just one of the many "preventative tasks" police carried out.
"It's not simple and there are a lot of factors that police need to take into consideration. We do the best we can with what we've got."
There was "no one solution to successfully preventing crime and more importantly, the causation of it", he said.