Police altered official crime statistics to make hundreds of
burglaries disappear, a Herald on Sunday investigation has
A damning report obtained by the newspaper reveals the
burglaries were instead recorded as more minor crimes, or as
incidents, which are not counted in crime statistics at all.
Five police staff, including then area commander Gary Hill,
were sanctioned over the incident, and an "extremely
disappointed" Police Minister, Anne Tolley, has moved to
reassure the public this is an isolated incident.
About 700 burglaries were "recoded" in the Counties Manukau
south area over three years, an internal police investigation
has found. It found that about 70 per cent of the time, the
offences should have remained burglaries.
The revelations will be an embarrassment for Police
Commissioner Mike Bush, who was district commander of the
area at the time, although he was not responsible for
overseeing the coding.
Police have not said why the statistics were altered, but say
staff were not under instruction to do so. Tolley denied
police were under political pressure to reduce burglary
An investigation began after the Independent Police Conduct
Authority received three anonymous complaints alleging
"corrupt management practices" in the region, which spans
Papakura, Pukekohe, Drury and Waiuku.
Counties Manukau district commander Superintendent John Tims
said police were very disappointed when the misconduct was
"The irregularities were of considerable concern and
undermined the great work done by our staff in this
He said the five staff who faced disciplinary proceedings had
faced a range of sanctions, which were confidential because
of employment laws. Tims said the problem was confined to one
area between 2009 and 2012, and had little impact on recorded
crime statistics in the district.
"Police are absolutely committed to ensuring that our crime
recording is as accurate as possible. We know this is a key
measure of how the public judges our performance, and this in
turn influences how safe people feel in their communities."
Tolley said she had received assurances from Commissioner
Mike Bush it was not widespread.
Bush, who declined to be interviewed for this story, was
Counties Manukau district commander from 2008 until March
2011, but Tims said responsibility for how crime was recorded
lay not with Bush but with the area commander.
The review listed dozens of examples where break-ins and
attempted burglaries were downgraded, including one case
where police failed to follow up after a witness gave them a
burglar's registration number.
The review found the burglary recoding rates in Counties
Manukau south at the time were 15 per cent to 30 per cent
whereas other areas typically recoded about 5 per cent.
Labour police spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said it was an
"incredibly damning" insight into how the crime statistics
could be altered to match a certain agenda.
"Political targets skew behaviour. In this case, the
integrity of the crime statistics in that area have been
"This may be isolated, it may not be. It's one thing to be
focused on bringing burglaries down but we want to make sure
it's genuinely happening and not just on paper."
She said reduced crime rates had been used as justification
by the Government to reduce frontline police in some areas.
Tolley said there was no pressure from the Government to
fudge the statistics, and the public expected "our police to
do their very best to tackle and prevent crime, and they have
been delivering excellent results for our communities.
"It's extremely disappointing that the hard-working police
staff in Counties Manukau have been let down by the actions
of a few."
Tims said the analysis since the internal review found that
the incorrect coding of burglaries would have "affected less
than half of 1 per cent of Counties Manukau's approximately
150,000 recorded crimes over that time".
When he assumed the role of area commander of Counties
Manukau south in February 2010, Hill said his key priority
was cutting burglary statistics.
Barely 18 months later he left the role, and told the
Papakura Courier that he had inherited a "rudderless" and
Yesterday, Hill said he left the police six months after the
Code of Conduct hearings to pursue business interests.
He was supported by the Police Managers' Guild Trust, whose
executive officer Earle Cooper said there was no serious
misconduct among staff. Cooper said two separate internal
police inquiries found staff had simply failed to follow
national guidelines for burglary coding.
The Review of Counties Manukau South Area Recoded Burglary
Occurrences 2009 to 2012 was carried out by Police National
Headquarters' performance monitoring group.
In the year to June 30 2013, there were 365,185 recorded
crimes across the country, and 170,377 of those were
• Offender enters yard,
opens shed and steals lawnmower, weedeater and petrol. Seen
by neighbour and vehicle registration noted. Recoded as
• During day while victim outside front of address, front
door open, offender enters and handbag stolen from kitchen
bench. Recoded as theft.
• Offenders jemmy a kitchen window to gain entry, attempt
made to remove hot water cylinder which was left by offenders
in hallway. Appears disturbed. Recoded as intentional
Burglary to incident
• Occupant left house, offender enters through rear window
possibly left open, searched through bedrooms.
• Dwelling secured when occupant left address at noon, alarm
activated at 2.30pm. Offender has forced window to rumpus
room to gain entry. Neighbour has seen offender running out
• Sleepout occupied by complainant. Offender reported as
having climbed into garage through rear window and removed
television and laptop from inside the sleepout.
- by Bevan Hurley, Herald on Sunday