Opposition focus on darker crime stats
Labour's police spokeswoman, Jacinda Ardern (file)
New Zealand's crime scene isn't all it's cracked up to be, opposition parties say.
They've been picking over statistics issued on Tuesday which show offending at a 29-year low.
The government and the police are claiming the credit for a "Prevention First" strategy they say is working.
The data reveals 15,602 fewer crimes were recorded in 2013 compared with the previous year, a decline of 4.1 per cent.
Labour's police spokeswoman, Jacinda Ardern, says there's another side to the statistics - they show an increase in the number of sexual assaults, murders and property-based crime.
"Sexual assault rates have jumped by 10 percent and homicide and related offences are up 18 percent," she said.
"These are serious crimes and they have a huge impact on New Zealand society."
Police Minister Anne Tolley has acknowledged the increase in sexual assaults and says she wants people to "continue to come forward" to report them.
Ms Ardern says Mrs Tolley might argue higher reporting rates account for the increase but the statistics also show resolution rates are falling, dropping from 53.8 percent in 2012 to 51.8 percent in 2013.
NZ First's Asenati Lole-Taylor says the statistics show crime in Northland increased to 15,588 offences - more than 40 crimes a day.
"Mrs Tolley is trying to prove they're ticking all the boxes by feeding us fancy statistics but the situation on the street is disturbing," she said.
Ms Lole-Taylor also says the government is trying to keep the prison population down by releasing offenders.
"Convicted prisoners are being released into the community without adequate rehabilitation or robust monitoring."