1 Apr 2011

Sharp drop in number of murders last year

6:20 pm on 1 April 2011

The number of murders in New Zealand dropped sharply last year - to 46 from 65 the year before, according to new police figures.

That's a drop of 23.6%. The number of all recorded offences also fell - by 6.7%, compared to 2009. There were 426,345 recorded offences during the year, down from 451,405.

The only part of the country with a gain in recorded offences was the eastern region of the North Island.

Crime dropped by 10.9% in Waitemata, 9.9% in Auckland City and 7.8% in Counties-Manukau.

Offences related to family violence went up by 1.2%, but the rate of increase was lower than in previous years. Sexual offending increased by 3.6%, almost all of it related to family violence.

Fraud offences dropped by 26.9%, weapons offences by 8.9%, drug offences by 7.7% and burglaries by 3.4%.

Fewer than half solved

Fewer than half of all reported crimes, however, were solved; in fact, the resolution rate fell slightly - from 47.8% in 2009 to 47.5% in 2010.

But the police's acting general manager of development, Kevin Kelly, says he is happy with that, as many crimes take more than a year to solve and the actual resolution rate is much higher over time.

Police Minister Judith Collins says she is very pleased to see that all but one police district had less reported crime.

She says, however, that the figures don't signal a victory over criminals. Crime rates, she says, are still unacceptably high.

Police praised for doing better job

Kim McGregor, who co-chairs a national network of sexual assault prevention agencies, says the small increases are positive but that's no reason to be complacent.

Women's Refuge is also encouraged by the smaller rise in reported family violence: chief executive Heather Henare says it shows police are doing a much better job at reducing family violence.

But with 80% of family violence still not being reported, she says, there's a real need for families to take more responsibility for the safety of women and children.