School crime drops by a third

18:49, Dec 27 2012

Christchurch's post-earthquake Blitz spirit could be behind a one-third drop in the crime rate in schools, principals say.

Statistics released to The Press under the Official Information Act reveal offending in the city's schools dropped almost 30 per cent over the past three years, from 1118 instances in 2009-10 to 800 in 2011-12.

Principals say it could be related to the sense of community spirit and survival after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

Shirley Boys' High School principal John Laurenson said post-quake Christchurch was similar to Blitz-era London during World War II.

"One thing they were aware of then was crimes, assaults fell away dramatically," he said.

"At the time of the earthquakes the focus was much more on survival, helping neighbours, digging liquefaction.


"I have a feeling a lot of crime falling, especially the ones associated with adolescent boys and girls, is to do with them being busy and purposeful.

"Also, the exam results were hugely improved in Christchurch last year."

Hornby High principal Richard Edmundson said schools had been a source of stability during the quakes, and many pupils now valued the school more.

"It's not a small step to hope, therefore, that because pupils are valuing the school and because the community is valuing the school that crime will fall," he said.

Hornby runs a process that helps at-risk pupils find alternative ways of coping and working through issues. "When things do go wrong, the aim is to try to put it right in a meaningful way," Edmundson said.

Theft, the most common offence police dealt with this year, has dropped from 458 incidents two years ago to 321 in 2011-12.

Breaking and entering and burglary rates have fallen from 172 incidents in 2009-10 to 109 this year.

Property damage has plummeted from 293 cases in 2009-10 to 236 in 2011-12 and down to 185 this year.

Police planning and performance group acting national manager, Rachael Bambery, said police did not collate data for offences at individual schools but provided a breakdown of responses from Christchurch police stations to schools and universities.

In 2011-12, police attended 10 cases of sexual assaults and related offences and 11 cases of abduction and harassment across the city.

The numbers are similar to the past two years, when police responded to 11 sexual assaults and related offences in 2009-10 and eight in 2010-11.

Abduction-harassment dropped from 14 cases in 2009-10 and 17 incidents in 2010-11.

The most crime-prone areas were Papanui and the surrounding suburbs, where officers responded to 187 incidents. But that had fallen from 257 callouts two years ago and 211 last year.

Hornby police had 157 callouts, and Christchurch Central responded to 132 this year.


Bloody rampage

In March, Redwood School was locked down for a day after 27-year-old Somali refugee Zakariye Mohammed Hussein kidnapped a delivery driver and went on a bloody rampage through Christchurch.

Hussein was jailed for 6 1/2 years for his actions on March 15, a day he felt "possessed by the Devil", which ended in him being shot by police.

At 7am that day, Redwood School caretaker Noel Batstone had to lock himself in a classroom after being confronted by Hussein, who has wielding a knife.

Hussein then kidnapped and stabbed Goodtime Foods driver Marteine Robin, 36, who had been delivering food to the school.

Hussein later stabbed Christchurch City Council worker Michael Thomson 11 times.

Burnside lockdown

Burnside High School was put on lockdown in March when armed police searched for a gunman in the grounds.

A police spokesman said a male teenager was seen by pupils walking through the grounds carrying what appeared to be a silver pistol. It was a toy gun.

Menacing woman

Between July and November, south Christchurch schools warned pupils to be on the lookout for a "menacing and unsavoury" woman.

She was barred from Somerfield School when principal Denise Torrey had to call the police after the woman would not leave.

The woman was arrested in November when she refused to leave Thorrington School.

Girl attacked

A 15-year-old girl suffered superficial cuts to her chest and legs when she was allegedly stabbed with a knife by three women who entered Aranui High School's grounds in August.

A police spokesman said no charges would follow.

Students arrested

It might not be a campus crime, but more than 60 university students were arrested in October after the University of Canterbury's annual tea party and Lincoln University's garden party.

Students dressed as Charlie Chaplin, Superman, a genie and Avatar were piled into police vans for breaching the liquor ban.

Career criminal

In November, two Christ's College pupils caught a career criminal in a fast-paced citizens arrest.

The pair stopped and held Dwayne Andrew Clarke, 26, as he tried to flee the school with a DVD player and a sweatshirt.

Clarke was refused bail this month.

Earlier in November, Christ's College security cameras snapped a man cycling out of the school grounds with a stolen laptop tucked under his arm.

The Press