Phil Goff –
Members of the Indian community I speak to simply do not believe that crime is becoming less of a problem. They are worried at the complacency of a government that keeps saying ‘It’s Ok, crime is coming down’ and therefore cutting the Police Budget.
The Police Statistics on Crime released in April showed that in the last year burglaries, crimes that have the widest impact in our community, have in fact increased in Auckland.
So have even more serious crimes like sexual assault.
Most worrying are trends showing that Police are solving less not more crime as each year passes and the cuts to real expenditure on policing have more and more impact.
Crime resolution figures in Auckland for high volume crimes like burglary and vehicle theft are getting worse. They have fallen to about one-in-twenty chance of offenders being apprehended.
Across the Auckland region, police resolution of burglaries has fallen over the last three years to a dismal 6.1%. In other words, 94% of burglaries did not result in a charge. For motor vehicle theft, resolution rates have fallen even further to 5.9%.
Crime resolution rates for more serious offences like assault and sexual assault have also fallen, in the latter case down by 14% over the last two years to 43.8%.
These figures are worrying. It means that if your home is burgled or your car stolen, there is almost no chance that you can expect the criminal who ripped you off to be caught. For the offender, they know they can go on committing crimes with little risk they will be arrested and held to account.
If crime is going down as the Government keeps telling us, perhaps the Police Minister can explain why Police are being less effective in dealing to those still committing crime.
When I asked that question of the Police Commissioner recently, before the latest and even worse figures were released, he could only say that it was a good question.
He said that burglary rates had decreased, but on the latest figures for Auckland in 2014, the number of burglaries has actually risen in the last year by over 15%.
The explanation seems to be that with cuts in the real level of their budget, police officers are being required to do more with less.
The Police Commissioner acknowledged that police had to absorb over $300 million in rising costs over recent years that they were not compensated in the last four budgets.
On the ground, police officers are telling me that with cuts in non-sworn staff numbers, front line officers have to do more of the backroom work themselves.
Aucklanders have the right to feel safe at home and in the community.
Police tell us that their emphasis is on crime prevention. But if fewer and fewer criminals are being apprehended and prosecuted for their crimes, that encourages rather than deters criminals. Criminals will get the message they will be unlikely to be caught and victims of crime will wonder why they even bother reporting the crimes they suffer from.
Phil Goff is former Foreign Affairs, Trade and Justice Minister and has been Member of Parliament for almost 35 years. Elected from Mt Roskill, he is today Labour Party’s Spokesperson for Ethnic Affairs and Auckland Issues.