Police Minister Judith Collins’ announcement that crime dropped last year left more than a few people scratching their heads. The economic conditions, especially high unemployment, should mean more crime, not less. Now, we’re starting to learn the answer: procedural changes that have wiped thousands of crimes off the stats.
Officially, there were 25,000 fewer crimes last year than in 2009. But it turns out that entire drop can be accounted for by reductions in the numbers of just 35 of the 837 offences. In fact, just 7 offences (all fraud or ‘offence against justice’ offences) that, between them, make up 3% of all crimes made up 21% of the reduction in crime:
|Take/Obtain/Use Doc for Pecuniary Advantage||5070||3602||-1468|
|Failure To Answer District Court Bail||5574||4309||-1265|
|Take/Obtain/Use Cred/Bank Crd To Pecuniary Advantage||2795||1779||-1016|
|Obtain By Deception (Under $500)||1812||1160||-652|
|Failure To Answer Police Bail||1612||1143||-469|
|Other Miscellaneous Offences Against Justice||1386||933||-453|
Each of these offences had mysterious drops of between 23% and 36% in a single year.
The Sunday-Star Times has details on why this happened. The fraud cases went down because:
Previously, a fraudster who made 30 transactions on a stolen credit card would face 30 charges, but now he or she would face only one, with all the counts listed in an attached schedule.
while offences against justice fell because
as of early last year, those on bail were no longer required to report to police.
many breaches of bail, such as curfew violations, were formerly recorded as offences when they should have been recorded as “incidents”. Education of frontline staff was resolving that.
It’s easy to make the crime rate drop – just stop charging people with offences.
Sure, sometimes practices change – like in 2005 when a new computer system caused recorded offences to jump 8% – but it’s dishonest to claim, as Collins has, that the result of a change in the way crime is measured is actually a change in crime levels.
National’s claim to have reduced crime (at least compared to the rise in their first year) is a bit like their claim to have increased Kiwi incomes. They can throw all the distorted statistics that they like at us but we all know the truth from our everyday experience. This country is going backwards under National.
I wonder which other classes of offence have been similarly interfered with to make the stats look better. And I wonder what involvement Collins had in those decisions.
PS. Any cars crushed yet, Crusher?