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New Zealand 2014 Crime and Safety Report - Part I

Overall Crime and Safety Situation
In general, crime is less prevalent in New Zealand than in major cities in the United States. A majority of the population lives in the larger urban areas of Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch, which continue to lead the country in criminal activity and associated arrests. Although complete statistics for 2013 are not yet available, mid-year indicators show a 7.4 percent decline in violent and petty crimes throughout New Zealand in comparison to 2013.

Tasman Valley, Mount Cook, Canterbury

Crime Threats

Street crimes in the major urban areas, such as theft from vehicles, are routine occurrences, and foreign tourists are frequently the victims of such crimes. Arrests for firearm-related offences showed a small decline; the use of weapons in the commission of crimes is infrequent. Burglaries to dwellings and commercial premises along with vehicle thefts also dropped in relation to previous recorded figures.

As a result of U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s visit to New Zealand in 2012, the U.S. and New Zealand have entered into a joint initiative to enhance information sharing and law enforcement cooperation. The Preventing and Combating Crime (PCC) Agreement, although not yet fully finalized by Parliament, is designed to facilitate the reciprocal exchange of serious criminal information. Under the agreement, the U.S. and New Zealand will share -- on a case-by-case basis and subject to privacy and data protection safeguards -- law enforcement data, including fingerprints and other biometric information, to identify terrorists and criminals during investigations and other law enforcement activities. The PCC Agreement is expected to go into effect in 2014.

In 2009, New Zealand passed several legislative initiatives to tackle the growing organized crime strongholds of illegal drugs, extortion, and people smuggling; several major successes demonstrate the effectiveness of the new legislation. The initiative has been successful, as the crime rates continue to decrease over the past few years. Organized crime (OC) groups are composed of mainly outlaw motorcycle gangs, ethnic gangs, and Asian organized crime elements. In general, trends show OC groups operate under a fluid, flexible, and dynamic structure. A significant trend within the OC scene is the willingness of traditionally rival gangs to cooperate in joint enterprises to manufacture and distribute illegal drugs, specifically methamphetamine. The gangs’ efforts focus mainly on drug-related crimes, with associated crimes such as extortion, people smuggling, kidnapping, and money laundering. The vast majority of identified crime groups are involved in transnational crime with extensive overseas criminal connections.

Overall Road Safety Situation

New Zealand is serviced by over 60,000 kilometers of paved roads, including 169 kilometers of highway that connect the major metro areas of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown. Traffic flows on the opposite side of the road from the U.S. – similar to the system used in the United Kingdom. The roads leading to and from major cities are comparable to Western standards for width; however, roads in rural areas are slightly narrower than roadways found in the U.S. The major roadways linking cities and towns are two-lane roadways; this coupled with the extreme topographic aspects can make passing vehicles dangerous.

Most traffic laws are comparable with Western standards. There are numerous roundabouts (traffic circles) that can be confusing and dangerous for those who are unfamiliar with giving-way to the right. These conditions, coupled with routine extreme weather, make it essential for newcomers to be aware of local laws and procedures before driving a motor vehicle.


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