A police report on crime trends following the 4 September Canterbury earthquake indicates crime rates are predicted to return to normal levels over the next three months.
The report has shown that overall crime reduced by 15 percent in the immediate aftermath of the quake, although some categories of offending, including burglary and family violence, showed increased activity.
The report, Canterbury Earthquake: key points and forecasting, has been prepared by police for internal planning purposes, and has also been distributed to other agencies involved in the earthquake recovery phase.
Findings in the report include:
• Overall total recorded offences decreased by 15 percent in the three-week post-quake period. Some of this may be attributable to delayed reporting.
• There was a 28 percent increase in calls for service to Police, the majority of these coming on the day of the earthquake (1286 calls on 4 September, compared to a daily average of 500)
• Increases were recorded in domestic disputes and family violence calls, with some callers referring to the stresses of the earthquake. (Note that family violence statistics have been trending upwards for several years, due to factors such as societal changes and improved reporting, which may also have contributed to the increase).
• Significant reduction in theft from cars and car conversions
• Theft offences decreased by 35 percent, while recorded burglary offences increased by 18 percent, the majority of these from dwellings. Note that some suburbs targeted for burglary were already high risk areas.
• Suburbs which suffered significant housing damage were particularly at risk, especially in relation to theft of hot water cylinders and scrap metal.
• Violence offences decreased by 10 percent compared to similar periods in previous years.
• Decreases in reporting were also noted in arson, fraud and sexual offending.
• The number of attempted suicide reports increased in the post-earthquake period. However the total number was relatively low and given the short time frame this is not considered a significant increase.
The report is much more extensive than the above implies. It contains a significant amount of researched material that has looked at the problems arising from other major disasters (e.g. Hurricane Katrina, Australian bushfires) and put them into a Canterbury context in an attempt to forecast social and anti-social developments through 2011 and 2012.
One of the Report's pointers for the future is that properties/areas vacated for repairs or rebuilding will become focal points for vandalism and theft. Increased membership of Neighbourhood Watch would be a good place for us to start. It would be also useful if we were to discuss how repairs and rebuilds in our area could be staggered to ensure that all vacated properties have neighbours present about them.
The report, which makes very interesting reading, can be downloaded from here.