The Police: Dealing with Dwelling Burglary.

Those fortunate enough never to have been a victim of burglary might be tempted simply to dismiss it as a property crime. However, for many whose homes have been burgled – sometimes repeatedly – the experience is more akin to a crime against the person. The sense of personal violation and shattered security can be profound, distressing, disabling and long-lasting.

There is another strong reason why burglary merits attention. It can often be a crime of youth and may represent an important stage in the development of a career criminal.

Over the last two to three years, these considerations have led the Government to:

  • agree that the Police place special emphasis on burglary;
  • set defined crime reduction targets and outcome performance measures for (for example) increased property security and reduced fear of crime; and
  • provide the Police with additional resources to target burglary.

This is our report of a performance audit of the way in which the Police deal with dwelling burglaries, pursue their outcome targets, and make use of their resources.

The audit broke new ground in the following two ways:

  • it was the first time that we had conducted a performance audit of the Police; and
  • in doing so, we needed to confront some complex operational and performance measurement issues.

We began the audit when former Commissioner Peter Doone headed the Police. However, for most of the period of the audit, Commissioner Rob Robinson has headed the Police. I am grateful to both Commissioners for the degree of co-operation shown to our auditors.

We have been impressed by the willingness of the Police to submit to scrutiny and to welcome the new perspectives that a fresh set of eyes can sometimes bring.

Because we were conscious of the complexity of this specialist area, we also sought the assistance of external referees. I am indebted to Dr Warren Young, Deputy Secretary of Justice and former Professor of Law at Victoria University of Wellington, and to Professor Ian Shirley, Director of the Institute of Public Policy, Auckland University of Technology, for their advice, valuable comments, and suggestions.

D J D Macdonald
Controller and Auditor-General

7 September 2001

page top