web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

Murdering statistics

Written By: - Date published: 9:36 am, July 12th, 2010 - 14 comments
Categories: crime, making shit up, scoundrels, spin - Tags:

Something that really boiled my blood a few weeks back, but which I haven’t had a chance to write about yet was this post by National Party pollster David Farrar on the topic of a recent lull in homicides in a single police district. It was the worst kind of politics – a person who knows his argument is false taking advantage of the suffering of people and the ignorance of his audience for petty party political points scoring.

Noting that there had been just one homicide in Manukau this past half year compared to 50 (actually, 48) in the previous two years David wrote: “So homicides have gone from one a fortnight to one in six months. Must be a coincidence with the extra police resources, right?”

Almost certainly yes, it is a coincidence.

You can’t attribute the lower number of homicides in those six months to police numbers, just as the three homicides in the past week in Manukau can’t be linked to police numbers.

As David and anyone with a smattering of statistical knowledge understands, when you have very rare events occurring at random intervals you get clumps of events and periods of none – it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, it’s usually just statistical clustering. The fact is that homicides are very, very rare events – about 1 every 5 days in a population of 4.3 million means (assuming everyone has an equal chance of being a victim) that it would take 26,000 years – four times recorded history! – before the odds of you being a homicide victim would pass 50%.

We can’t credit the Government for the fewer homicides in Manukau in the last half year any more we can blame for the tripling of homicides in Tauranga. Or for the three homicides in the past week in Manukau. Throw darts at a dartboard blindfolded and you’ll get clumps of darts and areas with no darts – it’s not a meaningful pattern – it’s coincidence.

Nationwide, homicides totaled 30 over the last six months, a little below the average of 35 for the previous 30 six month periods but, again, not enough to be statistically meaningful. A welcome drop in the number of homicides over a short period in one area proves nothing and anyone with thinks about it knows that. As Rex Widerstrom commented on David’s post “I sometimes wonder how DPF can sell his services as a statistician at the same time he uses his blog [for this statistical gibberish]”.

Where is a evidence for a causative link between the extra police in Manukau and the fewer homicides in those few months? There isn’t any. Just as National’s cuts to police numbers in other areas haven’t unleashed a wave of murders.

Most homicides in New Zealand are the result of family violence. The way to reduce them is the way we can reduce all family violence – with education campaigns and employment. The numbers show a degree of link between the unemployment rate and homicides, and a much stronger link between unemployment and the general crime rate.

If David really cared about reducing crime, rather than dishonest political point scoring on people’s suffering, he would join us in calling for the government to get serious about job creation – that is the single most effective tool the government has to make our communities safer.

14 comments on “Murdering statistics”

  1. ianmac 1

    When reporting the recent murder on TV they said several times that “since the increase in police in South Auckland, the number of murders has dropped from 50 to 2″. So David Farrar has done his job well. Crusher Collins can bask – like a shark?
    I hope that the number stays low but as you say the number of murders per 10,000 is so low that the stats are almost meaningless.

  2. Horse 2

    The NZ Police regularly do the same kind of thing with road fatalities to either (a) justify their “crackdown” if accidents happened to be lower on a weekend or (b) call for increased resources etc if accidents happened to be higher.

    • Rex Widerstrom 2.1

      Which is why – while I’m no fan of Collins – I wonder if it wasn’t the police hierarchy which proudly reported this “success” to their Minister, knowing full well she was enough of a dupe to fall for it (as was just about every journalist who received it).

      The police as master PR tacticians, from whom many could learn. Take something everyone wants, claim credit when an anomaly occurs, then use that to justify getting more of what you want.

      So, teacher unions – the next time some savant kid shows up, sit him alone in a classroom for the year watched by two teachers. Then take his A+ test results and get some shonky “expert” to attribute it all to a teacher / student ratio of 2:1. Bingo! Increased staff numbers :-D

  3. If a 50 percent reduction in joblessness equates to, at best, a 22 percent fall in crime and job creation is the “single most effective tool the government has to make our communities safer” then the outlook is grim.

    • Bright Red 3.1

      Lindsay’s search for the silver bullet continues… she throws away bronze bullets by the dozen in the process.

  4. Butyeahbutnahyeahnah 4

    Just as long as no one looks at restricting the supply of alcohol or the relationship between alcohol and domestic violence… Can’t have anyone touching my fruit and veg subsisdised, one in moderation, I tell you whats wrong with kids of today, alcohol. No, I’m not addicted I just get really shirty when I don’t have free access at ever dairy in the country to my one a day, habit, (that isn’t at all habit forming).

    If only Labour had the honesty and intent to make safer alternetives legal, isn’t time to look at the bigger picture?

  5. ghostwhowalksnz 5

    You dont have to go into the randomness of murder, to blow apart the Farragoblog comments – which came from TV3 to start with.

    They are comparing an actual offence , ‘murder’ with a crime category ‘homicide’
    When you look up the offences included in homicide ( which isnt an actual offence)
    they are
    Murder
    Manslaughter
    Attempted murder
    dangerous driving causing death ( or similar)
    Thats why it was such bullshit, they werent even comparing the murders from one year ( part year) to the next but with a bigger category.
    Of course the whole fabrication was concocted out of Collins office and fed to gullible slugs at TV3

  6. Bored 6

    I have not heard of DPFs imminent murder, nor the extremely low likelihood of this event (despite the large number of pleas of extenuating circumstances that might be bought before the court on behalf of whoever might do this foul deed). Maybe a rogue statistician out there might just lose his rag at DPFs outrages against a proud profession, on the other hand they might just do a quick Chi test on his forehead with a biro and conclude that numbers dont stick on their David, and that perhaps he is just a regression error.

  7. kriswgtn 7

    http://newzeelend.wordpress.com/killed-in-nz/

    He cant actually beat these stats with any crap

    Scarey and disturbing stats

    Captcha=oh

    • ianmac 7.1

      Crikey kriswgtn! Glad I will be a Kiwi when my number comes up. What stats! What credibility!

Links to post

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Taxpayers not suckers when it comes to casino lemon
    The Government should not be asking New Zealanders to stump up extra cash to bail out John Key and Steven Joyce’s dodgy SkyCity convention centre deal, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. "A deal is a deal is a deal. SkyCity… ...
    2 days ago
  • Supreme Court decision an early Christmas present
    Women on low pay in New Zealand have been given an early Christmas present with yesterday’s decision by  the Supreme Court not to intervene in a decision of the Court of Appeal, says Labour's Spokesperson for Women's Affairs, Sue Moroney. … ...
    3 days ago
  • Dunedin Hospital needs more than drip feed
    An ongoing and embarrassing pattern of major building leaks and equipment failures at Dunedin Public Hospital has been revealed in papers released under the Official Information Act, Dunedin North MP David Clark says. “Documents released under the Official Information Act… ...
    3 days ago
  • Dunedin Hospital needs more than drip feed
    An ongoing and embarrassing pattern of major building leaks and equipment failures at Dunedin Public Hospital has been revealed in papers released under the Official Information Act, Dunedin North MP David Clark says. “Documents released under the Official Information Act… ...
    3 days ago
  • 17 too young for teens to be shown the door
    Laws which see young people under the care of CYFS abandoned once they turn 17 will mean at least a dozen young Kiwis will be left to fend for themselves over the December festive season, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda  Ardern… ...
    3 days ago
  • 17 too young for teens to be shown the door
    Laws which see young people under the care of CYFS abandoned once they turn 17 will mean at least a dozen young Kiwis will be left to fend for themselves over the December festive season, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda  Ardern… ...
    3 days ago
  • National’s albatross, taxpayers’ curse
    Government consideration of further corporate welfare hand-outs to SkyCity for its convention centre shows just how weak the original contract was, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says. “Taxpayers will be appalled to hear that on top of the humiliating… ...
    4 days ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    6 days ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    6 days ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    6 days ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    7 days ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    7 days ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    7 days ago
  • Gerry Brownlee’s revolving airport door story
    A new report shows Gerry Brownlee is the latest Cabinet Minister to have contracted the infectious tell-porkies-until-you-are-caught disease, Labour’s Chief Whip Chris Hipkins says. “A Civil Aviation Report out today shows that despite being an extremely recognisable figure, Gerry Brownlee… ...
    7 days ago
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    1 week ago
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    1 week ago
  • Solar homes stymied by Govt inaction
    Government inaction is allowing the big power companies to discourage the nascent solar power sector, the Green Party said today. Green Party MP Gareth Hughes launched a petition today calling on the Government to empower the Electricity Authority to act… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • Way opening for April Sun in Cuba
    The United States of America’s President’s historic announcement yesterday to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba should be applauded by the New Zealand Government. The announcement marks a turning point in more than five decades of hostility between the two countries… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Minister ducking for cover over ‘Diplomat Case’
    Apparently the Ministerial Inquiry into what now seems to be being referred to as ‘The Diplomat Case’ ( I have a few other names for it) has been completed and is in front of Foreign Affairs Minister McCully. Initial Reports seem to… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Biosecurity it’s everyone’s responsibility
    Biosecurity costs New Zealand millions of dollars in attempting pest eradication and much more in ongoing management of pests in farming, horticulture, beekeeping and conservation, as well as in our own backyards and recreation areas. More work must happen at… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Failure to diversify puts prosperity at risk
    Beyond the news that a long-promised surplus is unlikely, further embarrassment is hidden in the fine print of the half year economic and fiscal update, Labour says. "National’s failure to rebalance the economy is further exposed in projections from its… ...
    1 week ago
  • Ombudsman probe targets Ministerial integrity
    John Key is on notice that the entrenched cynical and manipulative abuse of official information requests by his Government will no longer be tolerated, Labour’s Open Government spokesperson Clare Curran says. “The announcement by the Ombudsman of a wide-ranging review… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill English’s face is redder than his books
    The Government owes New Zealanders an apology for failing to deliver the surplus it spent four years and two election campaigns promising, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Bill English’s face is redder than the Crown accounts. This is the… ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Health Minister accountable to the public? He doesn’t seem to thin...
    Lately I’ve been involved in a sort of farcical standoff with the Health Minister, who seems to be under the illusion that I have no right to ask questions about conflicts involving Health Promotion Agency Board member Katherine Rich, and… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    1 week ago
  • Irresponsible tax cuts lead to seventh successive deficit
    National's borrowing to pay for cutting the top tax rate was irresponsible and will likely lead to a seventh successive deficit, the Green Party said today. Treasury have forecast a $572 million deficit this year in its Half Year Economic… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    1 week ago
  • Minister closes down dissent on climate change
    Minister closes down dissent on climate change In a threatening letter to Maori leaders, Minister for Climate Change Tim Groser says he will be requiring future international delegations to toe the party line, Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods says.… ...
    1 week ago
  • Farewell at Phillipstown
    Last Wednesday, I attended the farewell for Tony Simpson, Principal of Phillipstown School. It was a very emotional event where many of us in the large crowd shed tears. Bagpipes and tiny tamariki performing kapahaka brought the house down and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ should formally recognise Palestine
    New Zealand should follow the lead of Sweden, and now recognise Palestine as a separate state On 30 October, Sweden’s new government formally recognised the state of Palestine, only the second Western country to do so, after Iceland. Down here… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ should formally recognise Palestine
    New Zealand should follow the lead of Sweden, and now recognise Palestine as a separate state On 30 October, Sweden’s new government formally recognised the state of Palestine, only the second Western country to do so, after Iceland. Down here… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • James Shaw’s adjournment speech on behalf of the Green Party
    It is a great honour for me to speak on behalf of the Green Party in this adjournment debate. I thank my colleagues for the privilege. I became a MP only 12 weeks ago, a period of time that seems… ...
    GreensBy James Shaw MP
    2 weeks ago
  • James Shaw’s adjournment speech on behalf of the Green Party
    It is a great honour for me to speak on behalf of the Green Party in this adjournment debate. I thank my colleagues for the privilege. I became a MP only 12 weeks ago, a period of time that seems… ...
    GreensBy James Shaw MP
    2 weeks ago
  • A Tale of Two Farms
    Pig farming has yet again been thrust into the public view with two programmes this week on Campbell Live highlighting the very different conditions for pigs on two very different farms. The first programme exposed the awful conditions on… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere