If there was a 17 per cent increase in reported crime in this district, I imagine there would be quite a reaction, with letters to the editor, calls for greater police presence and tougher sentences - that sort of thing.
So when the opposite happens, it should be noted, because 17 per cent (16.7 actually) is no trifling number. It's almost one in five fewer offences.
And that has to have positive flow-on effects in all sorts of areas, such as less paperwork for the police, fewer court cases, a safer-feeling community, fewer insurance claims and fewer lives set off on the wrong track.
How has it happened? It has been the result of no one thing for sure, but a number of initiatives, many of them unseen and unheralded community ones.
The police themselves credit one initiative called Prevention First, where they work to identify offenders quickly, target potential offenders and maintain a presence in problem areas.
This makes sense, because in any community there is a small core of offenders responsible for most of the crime, the type of crime where the biggest decrease has occurred. If you want to see who these people are, pop along to court on a day when many of the minor offences are dealt with.
I have suggested this before, but all secondary school children should sit through at least one such court session to show them what not to become.
But back to the streets, where, unfortunately, in the last year there was an increase in violent crime, including sexual assaults, much of which was alcohol-related.
Alcohol is a real issue in this country and the police are left mopping up, although it was interesting that yesterday we also carried stories of three adults being issued with pre-charge warnings for supplying alcohol to under-agers and a bottle store losing two days' trade for selling to an under-ager.
Attitudes are hardening, but it will take time. The fact that three adults were caught shows that, as does the prevalence of violence on our streets.
The overall reduction, though, is worthy of celebration, and hopefully the police budget can stretch to sausage rolls and a cuppa to give themselves and other community groups a pat on the back.
We're all better off for their efforts.
- © Fairfax NZ News