• Clem Simich

Latest statistics showing New Zealand's crime rate has dropped for the second year in a row indicates the public's perception that crime was rising is unjustified, Police Minister Clem Simich said today.

Figures released by the Office of the Commissioner today show New Zealand's crime rate dropped 3% in the year to June 1999, which means crime has reduced by 7.7% since mid-1996. The rates of violent offending, burglary and vehicle theft have all declined.

Total recorded offences dropped 2.2% over the past 12 months, down almost 6% since June 1996 in spite of a steadily growing population.

Nine of the 12 Police districts showed a drop in crime, with the strongest reductions seen in the Eastern District (covering Hawke's Bay and Eastland) - down 8%, and Auckland City with a 6.5% drop.

Mr Simich said today's figures put paid to spurious surveys concluding some New Zealanders believed crime was increasing - particularly violent offending. Not only had the overall crime rate been reducing since 1992, but the rate of violent crime has also declined over the past four years.

"As Minister of Police one of the most disturbing trends I have observed is not the reality of crime, but the public's perception of it. This is not surprising, however, when one considers the misinformation about crime that often prevails."

"It saddens me when I hear the efforts of our Police undermined by a combination of urban myth and hearsay. These latest figures are a tribute to their hard work and dedication, and it is thanks to their efforts that we are seeing less crime."

Mr Simich said he was satisfied the drop in recorded crime was not due to non-reporting of property crime, as a survey of victims completed in 1996 showed the reporting rate was actually very high.

"Today's figures are tangible evidence that the Government's crime reduction programme is working," Mr Simich said.

" Next year we will have 7000 Police officers - the most in the country's history. It's this Government's aim through greater resourcing and effective management to make our Police service better."

"The public should feel reassured that perceptions are not necessarily reality. Our Police are performing better than ever and thanks to their hard work, we live in a safe country."