'Ghost crime' stats may be probed

Judith Collins blames the Labour Party for leaking the report. Photo: NZ Herald/Michael Craig
Judith Collins blames the Labour Party for leaking the report. Photo: NZ Herald/Michael Craig
The Independent Police Conduct Authority may yet step in to investigate revelations that police altered burglary statistics.

The authority said last night it had earlier received three anonymous letters about the handling of statistics and referred them to police for further investigation.

"The police have now taken employment action in respect of the officers involved and the Commissioner has publicly accepted that errors were made and have now been rectified," the authority said in a statement.

"The authority is currently awaiting further information from police and will then determine what future action, if any, it will take."

A police investigation, revealed in the Herald on Sunday, into southern Counties Manukau police found about 500 burglaries had been wrongly reclassified as other offences or incidents between 2009 and 2012.

Incidents are not recorded in crime statistics, leading to questions about whether police had fudged numbers to please political bosses.

Judith Collins was Police Minister for most of that period and her Papakura electorate is one of the affected areas.

She has trumpeted statistics in her newsletter Collins' Courier - which boasted about a 36.7 per cent drop in recorded burglaries from 2009-10 to 2010-11.

Police now conduct spot audits countrywide and have all tier-one statistics verified by Statistics NZ to ensure integrity.

Ms Collins yesterday turned up the heat on the issue , blaming the Labour Party for leaking the report.

Ms Collins said: "I thought it was very interesting that Jacinda Ardern said she didn't know anything about this before Saturday, because Andrew Little was talking about this last week."

Mr Little, Labour's justice spokesman, said his comments were about a related but different matter - pressure to reduce the number of police charges to meet Government targets.

Ms Ardern said she wanted to focus on the integrity of the statistics.

"If the minister has seen reports from the new audits, then it would be great if she could share those - just to demonstrate there is a guarantee of integrity in the system and it is working properly," Ms Ardern said.

Ms Collins defended not passing information to the police or the Police Minister when she first heard rumours about police statistics in February 2012, just after she became Justice Minister.

"I didn't need to pass it on because police were already dealing with it."

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