4 Oct 2011

Murder rate at 25 year low

5:24 am on 4 October 2011

New Zealand's murder rate is at its lowest for 25 years, with police crediting a strong focus on crime prevention.

Figures show murders have fallen nearly 50%, with 34 recorded in the year from July 2010 to June 2011. There were 65 murders in the previous year.

Deputy Police Commissioner Viv Rickard told Checkpoint that much of the nationwide drop is down to having police on the ground in neighbourhoods.

"We've had a real focus on prevention and we'll continue to do so. We think we can stop crime; we think when we can identify patterns we can do something about it - and that's what we've been doing.

"We've been putting our police officers back into neighbourhoods, and that's been welcomed by the public."

The largest decrease in crime was in Canterbury, where the rate fell by 15%, followed by the Southern region which dropped by 10%.

Crime stats

Of the 34 murders recorded in the year to June 2011, 20 were related to family violence, down from 35 on the previous year.

The statistics also show reported crime dropped 5.8% to more than 416,000 offences for the year.

Illicit drug offences fell by 15% to 20,973. Sexual assaults and related offending, which police say is under-reported, increased by 12%, up by 366 to 3327.

One of the standout results was in the Waitemata district, where homicide and related offences dropped by 91.7% from 12 to just one attempted murder. There were six homicides in the district in the previous year.

Superintendent Bill Searle says he puts much of the homicide result down to a drop of nearly 8% in offences related to family violence.

He says about half of homicides are usually family violence- related and Waitemata police have put a big emphasis on bringing those figures down.