1 Apr 2009

Violent crime on rise, but more cases being solved

6:15 pm on 1 April 2009

Latest police crime statistics show violent crime is still on the rise, but more cases are being resolved.

The figures, issued on Wednesday, show recorded crime rose by 1.2% last year. In 2008, 431,381 offences were committed, compared with 426,380 in 2007.

Police say the increase reflects the growth in New Zealand's population. But, the resolution rate for total crime is at its highest level in a decade, at 46.7%.

The figures show violence offences increased by almost 3000 reported cases in 2008, with family violence the main reason for that increase.

Violent offending was up 5.2%. Police recorded 59,935 violence offences in 2008 compared with 56,983 the previous year.

Assistant Police Commissioner Grant Nicholls attributes the rise to an increase in recorded family violence (up 12.4%), largely due to better reporting of crime and better police training.

"We are not suggesting the prevalence (of family violence) is increasing, but what we are seeing is more recording, and I think people are coming forward and making those complaints more than they have in the past."

There were 109 homicides recorded in 2008 compared with 88 in 2007.

The Counties Manukau District continues to lead this area, recording 31 homicides last year, compared with eight in 2007. Mr Nicholls says the overall increase in recorded violent crime in the district is due to an increase in family violence.

Mr Nicholls says though it is too soon to draw a conclusion between the crime statistics and the recession, police are seeing an increase in credit by fraud, some dishonesty offending and recorded increases in family violence.

More Victim Support sought

Victim Support chief executive Tony Paine says his agency has noticed an increase in the number of people wanting its services in the past year and believes it is a sign the recession is being felt.

"Unemployment is rising, times are getting a bit tougher and people are a bit more stressed. That inevitably flows through to crime statistics. From our point of view, tragically, it leads to there being more victims to look after."

Mr Paine says the economic slump has also meant the Government's purse strings have drawn tighter and contributions from charitable trusts - especially those with overseas investments - have become scarce.

He says that means the agencies that help the victims of crime have been left doing more work, with less money.