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Decline in crime but focus on west

Western Leader
6 October 2011

By Nicola Murphy

Recorded crime in the Waitemata district is at a 16-year low but Waitakere's statistics are still the highest.

Waitemata's figures, out this week for the 12 months ending on June 30, show a decrease in crime despite a slight increase in population.

There were no homicides and a decline in drug offences from 2315 to 1874.

The Waitemata district is broken down into three areas, Waitakere, North Shore and Rodney and while there was a 6 percent drop in crime for Waitakere, there were still 19,231 crimes committed.

District commander Bill Searle attributes the drop to a proactive police approach based on prevention rather than reaction.

"We identify times and locations where crime happens and direct our resources to those areas," he says.

He acknowledges Waitakere is a problem area in Waitemata with the number of burglaries, thefts, abductions and related offences surpassing Rodney and the North Shore.

There were 3530 burglaries in Waitakere last year, that's 168 per 10,000 people, compared with 86 and 68 for Rodney and the North Shore.

"We've certainly focused our resources on Waitakere in the past year and we seem to be doing a good job with the resources we've got," Mr Searle says.

Fraud and related offences in Waitakere were down from 445 to 367 and drug offences declined from 1113 to 738.

He says there has been a team effort by police, government, non-government and community groups such as Auckland Council and Neighbourhood Support.

He says the 2010-2011 decrease is a trend from the year ended 2009-2010 which was encouraging.

"It gets harder each year but we'll be doing the best we can."

It wasn't all good news though.

There was an increase in the number of sexual assaults and dangerous or negligent acts endangering a person.

Waitakere Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator Samantha Farquhar says the number of burglaries in west Auckland is an ongoing concern, especially those happening during the day.

"We encourage people to set up groups. Our area is growing and people need to stand up and be vigilant."

Auckland University senior criminology lecturer James Oleson says many factors influence crime statistics.

"They are a function of the actual number of crimes committed, the willingness of the public to report offences to the police and the discretion of the police in determining that a crime is likely to have been committed."

Mr Oleson says while the decrease is cause for celebration, it's important to acknowledge that police are dealing with small numbers in New Zealand data.

"We need to be careful when we talk about relative reductions in percentages. It's easy to double a number when it goes from two to four."


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