Recorded crime falls dramatically in Canterbury

Press Release – New Zealand Police

Total crime in the Canterbury Police District has fallen dramatically in the last 12 months to a record low level in 16 years.Recorded crime falls dramatically in Canterbury

Total crime in the Canterbury Police District has fallen dramatically in the last 12 months to a record low level in 16 years.

Annual recorded crime figures released today indicate a total of 45,904 offences were recorded in Canterbury for the year ending 30 June 2011, a decrease of 14.6 percent on the previous year.

On a per head of population basis, recorded crime fell by 15.6 percent – from 965.1 per 10,000 people to 814.5 per 10,000 people.

The reduction in recorded crime was the largest for all districts across New Zealand in the past 12 months.

Acting District Commander Inspector John Price says the drop in recorded crime is an exceptional result for the district, and reflects in part the traumatic year that Cantabrians have experienced.

In particular, after the February 2011 earthquake, significant falls in crime were recorded. This was consistent with international experience which showed a reduction in crime was often experienced after major natural disasters.

“There’s no doubt that the upheaval the greater Christchurch area has experienced in the past year has had an impact on crime,” says Inspector Price.

“Although recorded crime figures have been trending downwards in recent years, this is a sharp and unprecedented drop.”

Substantial reductions were recorded in some of the high volume crime categories including including theft and related offences, down by 19.7 percent, and property damage, down by 23.1 percent.

Significant results included:

• Property damage offences fell by 23.1 percent, from 9101 to 7003.
• Motor vehicle theft was down by 25.1 percent, from 8690 to 6513
• Theft other than motor vehicles fell by 14.5 percent from 8793 to 7522
• Robbery, extortion and related offences recorded a 21.4 percent drop, from 281 to 221
• Fraud, deception and related offences fell by 18.3 percent, from 1314 to 1074
• Drug-related offending dropped by 18.8 percent, from 2267 to 1841
• Weapons related offences fell by 15.3 percent, from 771 to 653
• Public order offences, including disorderly conduct, fell by 8.8 percent, from 5652 to 5154
• Assaults fell from 4046 to 3751, a drop of 7.3 percent
• Burglary related offences recorded a slight drop, down by 0.7 percent from 7138 to 7087
• Three murders were recorded in the 2010-11 year compared to five in each of the previous two years

The category of sexual assault and related offences increased by 23.9 percent, from 310 to 384.

Recorded family violence offending across the district decreased by 0.4 percent, falling from 4043 to 4026.

Across the district, total recorded crime in the Christchurch Central Area was down 22 percent and in Northern Canterbury by 18.7 percent. Southern Canterbury total crime fell by 8.7 percent, while rates in Mid-South Canterbury, which includes Timaru and Ashburton, were unchanged from 2009-10.

Inspector Price says a number of factors related to the Canterbury earthquakes are likely to have contributed to the significant reductions in recorded crime.

“After both major events we saw a huge outpouring of community spirit and altruism, with people checking on neighbours, being active in their local community and looking out for those more vulnerable.

“A second factor was that central Christchurch – an area where a high concentration of crime has traditionally occurred – has been in lock-down inside the CBD red zone since February.

“Third, I don’t think we can underestimate the impact of our high-visibility policing during the months after the February quake. We had hundreds of additional police staff from Australia and New Zealand in the city, assisting residents and undertaking reassurance patrols across the city.”

Inspector Price says it was notable that family violence levels were unchanged, as international research had suggested a spike in family violence could be expected from six months after a major natural disaster.

“We have not seen evidence of that occurring as yet,” he says. “However the district has now been through not one but two disasters and we will need to continue monitoring family violence carefully.

“Police are proactively targeting at-risk households to work with families and identify issues before offending occurs. We also continue to work closely with other agencies in the social sector to prevent family violence.”

“Experience shows that over time crime patterns will return to normal levels, and some types of crime, such as family violence, may in fact see increases as stress takes its toll on people during the recovery and rebuilding phase.

“There are challenges in this scenario for Police, but we are well prepared and are adjusting our operations to ensure we can respond effectively.

“We are working towards having additional frontline officers on patrol in Christchurch. We will have two new Neighbourhood Policing Teams in operation, working with local communities and targeting crime in high-risk areas.

“We are also making changes to some of our back-office functions such as file management and custodial duties, to free up more uniformed staff for frontline police work.

“Most importantly, crime prevention is a responsibility we share with the whole community and we urge Cantabrians to maintain that community spirit, look out for each other, and be our eyes and ears in their local neighbourhoods.”


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