Pubdate: Wed, 02 Apr 2008
Source: Bay Of Plenty Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2008 Bay Of Plenty Times
Author: Vicki Waterhouse


Western Bay police say their crackdown on "evil' drugs like P and
cannabis is the reason why drug offences soared last year.

Statistics released yesterday showed more than 130 more drug offences
were uncovered by local police last year _ an increase of 30.1 per
cent from 2006.

Western Bay of Plenty Police District Area Commander, Mike Clement,
attributed the dramatic rise to better policing.

"It was a very strong focus on having an intolerance towards cannabis
dealing," he said.

"That [increase] is largely around our policing of

"I just don't like people drug dealing, and the message is very loud
and clear, and the community doesn't like it either, and we're doing
something about it."

The number of cannabis offences rose from 370 in 2006 to 471 in 2007 _
a 27 per cent increase. Mr Clement said it did not necessarily mean
there were more offences being committed.

"Drug offending is police-generated in terms of statistics. Drugs are
very much a police-driven exercise in terms of our activity around

Offences concerning new drugs _ pure methamphetamine (P) and ecstasy _
almost doubled from 37 to 70 offences.

Mr Clement said P was a problem nationally.

"I don't think that in the last year we've had a whole lot more
methamphetamine find its way into the Western Bay. It's no different
here than it is from everywhere else. It is in our society and we've
got to do something about it. It destroys lives. It's evil."

Violence was also on the rise in the Western Bay, with 140 more
offences _ a 16.3 per cent increase _ in non-family related incidents
occurring from 2006 to 2007.

Mr Clement said this could be attributed mostly to alcohol and other
drugs, but admitted there was a problem there.

"We haven't got a great understanding of it at the moment," he

"To be fair, I haven't done a problem profile around violent attacks.
But I can say with a degree of confidence it will be to do with
alcohol and drug offending amongst other things that fuel those sorts
of violence offences. "I think around violence there's an awful lot
more effort to be put into analysing the problem and understanding it,
we can't deny that," Mr Clement said.

The increase was mostly due to more serious and minor assaults, and
more intimidation, Mr Clement said.

Family violence produced another worrying statistic _ it was up 21.6
per cent from last year, well above the national increase of a 12.3
per cent.

Mr Clement said this was due to police working with 16 non-police
organisations across the district to encourage more victims to come
forward and feel safe about doing so.

There were 214 more family violence offences reported in 2007 than the
year before.

On the positive side, burglaries, theft from cars and unlawful taking
of cars have been on the decline in the Western Bay.

The total number of burglaries fell from 2275 in 2006 to 1861 last
year, while unlawful taking of cars dropped from 489 to 437. This was
a big improvement as 688 car thefts were reported back in 2005.

Mr Clement said the fact police were now divided into teams focusing
on different parts of the city had made a huge difference.

Six scene of crime officers were also employed to attend every
burglary and recovered stolen car, while Community Policing Teams
operating out of Mount Maunganui, Tauranga South and Tauranga were
also having a positive impact.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek