Crime in Otago dropping

Overall crime in Otago is dropping, despite a recent spike in robbery and extortion convictions.

In the year to June 30, 2013 there were 2974 convictions in Otago and South Canterbury courts - the lowest annual figure in a decade.

Similarly, the 2614 convictions in Southland and Central Otago courts during that time also represented the lowest number in at least 10 years.

Data collated by the Ministry of Justice showed convictions in the South have been dropping each financial year since 2009.

The ministry grouped Timaru, Balclutha, Dunedin and Oamaru courts in its Otago-South Canterbury cluster and Alexandra, Queenstown, Invercargill and Gore courts in the Southland-Central Otago cluster.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said crime throughout New Zealand was at a 33-year low.

Since June 2011 the total crime rate had fallen 13%, violent crime had fallen 9% and reoffending was down 11.4%, she said.

Youth crime had reduced by 22%.

Overall conviction numbers in Otago-South Canterbury courts in the past decade peaked at 4116 in the 2008-09 financial year, and in Southland-Central Otago the highest number was 3504 in 2009-10.

The only significant recent increases in convictions in the South were for robbery, extortion and related offences.

There were 17 such convictions in the past financial year in Otago-South Canterbury, up from eight and nine in the two previous financial years.

In Southland-Central Otago, there were 11 such convictions in 2012-13, almost double the number of the two previous years combined (12).

The figures also showed there were a few more homicides recently.

Both court clusters showed four homicide convictions in the past financial year, compared to zero and four in 2011-12, and zero and one in 2010-11.

Conviction numbers had remained relatively static for property damage and environmental pollution, ranging from 149 to 213 each financial year in Otago-South Canterbury and 125 to 177 in Southland-Central Otago.

Weapons convictions were down in both court clusters from a high in 2009-10, as were drug offences.

In the past financial year just 86 drug convictions were imposed in Southland-Central Otago courts, following 113 in 2011-12, 187 the previous financial year, and 184 in 2009-10.

In Otago-South Canterbury drug convictions had dropped to 140 and 144 in the past two financial years, from 247 in 2010-11 and 273 in 2009-10.

Sexual offending convictions ranged from 17 to 36 each financial year in Otago-South Canterbury, and 13 to 26 in Southland-Central Otago.

Convictions for dangerous or negligent acts have reduced in both court clusters by almost 50% since a peak in 2006-07.

Fraud, deception and theft conviction rates have hardly changed in either court cluster in the past decade, and neither have burglary convictions.


Convictions in 2012-13 financial year

Robbery, extortion: Otago-South Canterbury (O-SC) 17; Southland-Central Otago (S-CO) 11.

Unlawful entry, burglary: O-SC 102; S-CO 74.

Theft: O-SC 286; S-CO 140.

Fraud, deception: O-SC 94; S-CO 68.

Abduction, harassment: O-SC 49; S-CO 54.

Dangerous acts, negligence: O-SC 268; S-CO 200.

Sexual assault: O-SC 30; S-CO 16.

Intending injury: O-SC 393; S-CO 395.

Drugs: O-SC 144; S-CO 86.

Weapons, explosives: O-SC 46; S-CO 41.

Property damage, pollution: O-SC 153; S-CO 125.

Homicide: O-SC 4; S-CO 4.

Total: O-SC 2974; S-CO 2614.



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