Police under-reporting more than 95 per cent of gun crimes - investigation

New figures show police have been under-reporting the number of gun crimes in New Zealand.

They have identified flaws in their system suggesting less than five per cent of gun-related offences are being recorded in the police national database.

In their monthly magazine, police strategy group manager Catherine Petrey says, "Other than anecdotal reports from our frontline police, we don't know the level of risk to the public, let alone our frontline workers."

An internal investigation led by Ms Petrey exposed major failings in police reporting over a three-month period.

While there were 86 reports of crimes involving firearms, just five were recorded correctly.

In that time, police seized 29 firearms, but only recorded four cases properly. And in 22 cases, despite evidence of firearms being used in the crime, none were seized or officially recorded.

The Police Association said the issue of firearms in the hands of criminals as a "much greater risk than New Zealand realises".

"A number of the gun lobby think we've been crying wolf over the seriousness of the firearms issue in New Zealand and now we're vindicated... Showing that actually, it is a major problem," president Chris Cahill said.

Police Minister Stuart Nash says he was surprised by the findings.

"Making decisions, you've got to have complete data, and the less data you have, the less robust your decisions are going to be," Mr Nash said.

The police said they are working on a video and "communications to staff" to better educate them about how to record firearms in the system.

The evidence suggests police are correctly recording fewer than five per cent of crimes involving firearms in their national database. Source: 1 NEWS

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Wellington cycleway repair to cost $4 million more

A 1.7 kilometre cycleway in Wellington that cost about $1.8 million to build, has been estimated to cost $10 million to fix.

Wellington city councillors today asked council officers how much it would cost to change the Island Bay cycleway to appease residents.

The plan, considered by many as a compromise between residents and council, was signed off in September 2017.

It was put on hold while the council applied for $24 million of Government funding for a wider cycleway between Island Bay and the city, that would include the controversial stretch.

Councillor Nicola Young, who has consistently opposed the cycleway, asked officers at a meeting today how much it would cost to fix the 1.7km of cycleway that already existed, and was told it could be $4 million more than the $6 million put aside.

However, the council would not know for sure until the project had gone out to tender.

The estimated price tag was a very expensive fix for something that cost less that $2 million to build, councillor Andy Foster said.

"It's a very expensive remediation to spend more than four times as much as what was spent in the first place. In my books, you're not building the same thing at all."

The fix included not just resealing the road, but a high quality transformation of the stretch of road, council officers said.

- By Radio New Zealand's Laura Dooney

The community is calling for a return to the pre-cycleway design that wouldn't see carparks removed. Source: Breakfast

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Revealed: Man found guilty of historical rapes is the 'Beast of Blenheim'

The 71-year-old man on trial for raping three women and a girl nearly 50 years ago can be named as serial rapist Stewart Murray Wilson.

Wilson, who had name suppression for the duration of the trial, has been before the High Court in Auckland since last Monday defending a number of sex charges, including six charges of rape and three of indecency with a girl under 12.

He is infamously known as the "Beast of Blenheim" and was jailed for 21 years in March 1996 for violent sexual attacks on women and girls throughout a two and a half decade period.

His convictions include rape, bestiality, stupefying and ill-treatment of children.

In 2017, he was charged again in relation to the rapes of three women and a girl throughout the 1970s.

He pleaded not guilty and stood trial before Justice Lang and a jury of six men and six women last week.

This morning after 7 hours of deliberations the jury returned with mixed verdicts.

They found him guilty of raping a woman and a 9-year-old girl, and attempting to rape another woman, among other charges.

They found him not guilty by majority of the raping and indecently assaulting the fourth woman.

They could not agree on two other charges, indecent assault and threatening to kill, relating to this same woman.

On these charges, Justice Lang discharged Wilson.

He was remanded in custody for sentencing on 29 November.

By Anneke Smith

rnz.co.nz

Stewart Murray Wilson appearing in court. Source: 1 NEWS


'We always want to be doing more' - anti-bullying group aided by $100,00 injection from Facebook

A Central Otago-based anti-bullying organisation has been given $100,000 by Facebook to make their youth-driven programme national.

Sticks 'n' Stones' aim is to use the money to train 500 students from 40 schools around the country in 2019 to give support to others dealing with negative online behaviour and lead internet safety initiatives.

It's predicted the plan for Online Safety Advocates could help more than 15,000 young people in the first year of the programme.

"We'll be having regional activator workshops right across the country - Christchurch, West Coast, Wellington, Auckland, Hamilton, Invercargill, Nelson, right across the country so that young people have the opportunity to connect and then engage in the online training programme, create a collaborative community right across the country," founder Karla Sanders said.

A launch for the online safety programme was held in Wellington today, with high school students taking part in workshops to help shape what the programme will look like.

Wellington High School Year 12 student Liberty Mcintyre-Reet said it's hard to feel connected if you're being bullied online.

"It's kind of hard to walk into a classroom or say hi to people if you know behind their back it's not going right," she said.

She said it's more helpful and influential for support to come from peers than adults.

"It's been a bit of an eye-opener into how much of an impact we can have," she said.

St Patrick's College student Ryan Jennings said the internet changes rapidly, but guidance on how to keep safe online has been lacking.

He said the Sticks 'n' Stones launch event has helped him learn how to support others dealing with online bullying.

Netsafe research shows seven out of 10 teenagers experienced at least one type of unwanted communication online in the past year.

Facebook global safety director Antigone Davis said Facebook, which also owns social media platform Instagram, takes the responsibility to make sure their sites are safe places for users "very seriously" but said there's always more that can be done.

"We are constantly looking to make sure that we are diminishing online abuse.

"We are doing a lot, we are investing in our policies, we are investing heavily in our tools, investing in programmes like this but we always want to be doing more because we really want to safeguard all the really incredible, positive things that we seen online," Ms Davis said.

Ms Davis said Facebook accepts people may encounter negative behaviour and that's why the company wants to make sure people know how to report it and that its technology development and policies to deal with online abuse are the best possible.

She said Facebook is working with Harvard University's internet research centre on lesson plans schools can use to teach children about safe practices online.

Facebook have chipped in to help train students how to deal with online bullies. Source: 1 NEWS