Crime rate up but still low overall, police say

Police say crime fluctuates across the Gore area with the seasons, even varying month to month, but overall the crime rates are low.

A report in a Gore District Council committee meeting agenda this week said crime in Mataura had risen nearly 40% in the past three months.

In a statement, police said it was more important to look at year-on-year changes.

Southland area commander Inspector Mike Bowman acknowledged there was an increase in the crime rate in the Mataura area, but overall the incidence of crime remained significantly low in the Mataura and Gore area.

"Therefore, a small change in the number of incidents reported can correlate to a substantial increase in the crime rate increase, as portrayed in the report.

"It is important to look at year-on-year changes, rather than month-on-month, to paint an accurate picture."

Police said overall most reported crimes in Mataura and Gore were incidents of theft, burglary and acts intended to cause injury, which included family harm-related incidents.

Across Gore, Southland and the country, crime regularly had seasonal fluctuations and varied by month.

In December, residents in the area tended to leave for holidays, meaning less crime was both committed and reported over that period.

Overall, Mataura had slight increases in assault and theft, and slight decreases in burglary, between June 2023 and May 2024, compared with the previous 12 months.

Police recognised there was a higher rate of crime in the Mataura area compared to other areas of the Gore district, and the majority of incidents were committed by a small group of local offenders.

Sergeant Chris Dunbar, of Gore, said police worked with the community to identify crime and patterns of offending, investigate incidents, and provide prevention advice.

Police had increased foot patrols in the area, including Mataura, and were dedicated to preventing further offending within the tight-knit community.

"We’re collaborating with local support networks to assist victims, and work with those previously involved in criminal activity to prevent further offending in the area, including work to tackle underlying drivers of crime."