No dishonesty in burglary statistics - former cop

A senior officer in the police area where hundreds of burglaries disappeared from official crime statistics says his former boss and colleagues have been "hung out to dry".

Stuart Stone, a senior sergeant at Counties Manukau South during the three-year period in question, resigned shortly before an internal investigation into how 500 burglaries were incorrectly recoded as minor crimes, or incidents.

The review found the burglary recoding rates in the area at the time were 15 per cent to 30 per cent where other areas typically recoded about 5 per cent.

Mr Stone maintained that his departure was unconnected to the inquiry, but confirmed he was interviewed as part of the review which led to minor employment sanctions against five staff, including the area commander Inspector Gary Hill.

Mr Hill declined to comment yesterday and resigned six months after the internal review concluded to pursue business ventures.

Mr Stone was part of the management team based at Papakura between 2009 and 2012 but insisted there was nothing "underhanded" in the recoding of the burglary statistics. The codes were reviewed daily as offences were often recorded incorrectly by call-takers at the police communications in the first instance, said Mr Stone.

"The guys I was working with were really good people, I can't see them doing that ... It wasn't because they were fudging stats, it was to make sure the jobs were coded correctly," Mr Stone said.

"If that sort of stuff was going on, I would have been out of there. That's not why I left, I left because I'd had enough [of policing] and wanted to get back to the farm."

Mr Stone said Mr Hill and his former colleagues had been "thrown under the bus".

"There was nothing hidden there. Gary, I can tell you, would not have done anything intentional to defraud anyone. He was going places in the police," Mr Stone said. "He got hung out to dry."

Mr Stone said there was "huge competition" between the four area commanders in Counties Manukau to drive down crime and implement the Prevention First strategy under the direction of district commander Mike Bush, who is now Police Commissioner.

"But I don't think anyone in the team I was with would recode stats to get one over another area," Mr Stone said. "There was no intent to defraud, or be dishonest. If there were mistakes made, there were mistakes made and they should learn from that. But I can honestly say there was no intent."

A review of the burglaries recoded between June 2009 and May 2012 found about 700 burglaries were recoded and of those 70 per cent should have remained as burglaries.

- By Jared Savage of The New Zealand Herald

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