Crime continues to fall

Written By: - Date published: 12:28 pm, April 1st, 2008 - 14 comments
Categories: crime - Tags:

The latest Police statistics show crime is still dropping. Crime dropped from 1013 offences per 10,000 people in 2006 to 1008 in 2007. There was a dramatic reduction in homicides (down 10.1%, following a 10.2% drop in 2006), sex attacks were down 2.3%, and ‘Dishonesty’ offences, including thefts and burglaries, fell 5.1%.

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There is also evidence that the ‘It’s not OK’ campaign against family violence is having an impact in getting people to report crimes that previously were kept secret. 5800 more family violence offences were reported last year than the year before. Other violent offences remained steady on a per capita basis.

More reporting of crime is a good thing, even though it inflates the crime stats.  As does the addition of new offences; stronger liquor bans resulted in 2400 more offences last year than 2006. Accounting for increased reporting of crime and stronger laws to curb anti-social behaviour, the underlying crime rate has probably fallen more sharply.

The success of ‘It’s not OK’ campaign in getting people to come forward and the addition of 1000 extra Police Officers are resulting in more arrests. Police resolved 9,500 more cases last year than in 2006 and 5,900 of those were violence offences.

This really does show how hollow all the ‘rising crime’ rhetoric we hear is. Crime is falling. New Zealanders are safer from crime now than any period in at least the last 25 years and reporting rates are rising, meaning people are more confident to contact the Police and criminals are more likely to be caught.

14 comments on “Crime continues to fall”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Thanks SP

    The report will be worth a read over afternoon tea – one point I claiming that NZers are safer from crime now than any time in the last 25 years on the back of the graph from the statistics department is drawing a rather long bow.

  2. Steve Pierson 2

    Well. There are fewer reported crimes per 10,000 now than at any time since 1983. And all the evidence is that reporting rates are increasing.

    Cell phones are attributed as a cause of the increase in reporting of violent crime because minor incidents can be reported much more easily. Most the increase in reported violent crime over the last decade is in the ‘threats and intimidation’ catagory (which, strangely, doesn’t involve any acutal violence, just like how attempted murder sits in the homicide catagory). The Police reckon its down to cellphones (that was in a seperate report I saw last year, don’t know where it is online).

    To use a medical analogy – more cases of a disease being diagnosed doesn’t necessarily mean there is more of the disease in the population. There may well have been more crime in the 1970s than now but reporting rates were lower.

  3. Phil 3

    I moved from Chch to Wellington just over 5 years ago. After getting used to the Wellington nightlife and central city, trips back to Chch and nights on the town down there felt, to me, incredibly unsafe.

    Making this comment to friends, they all laughed or shrugged it off – they had always lived in Chch and everything felt fine to them (as it used to to me, too). Interestingly though, on a recent return and catching up with the same friends, THEY were the ones making comments about how unsafe the city felt – it was a huge attitude/perception shift from them in just a couple of years. The same thing seems to be echoed across all our major cities.

    I’m not really making any particular point here, other than suggesting that statistics aren’t going to change how people feel, regardless of how rosy the picture they portay.

    Captcha; “Prisoner Chilly”

  4. Stephen 4

    …unless the media get a hold of the statistics and blast a “New Zealand safer” line…

  5. sean14 5

    I don’t understand why the left and right (for the lack of better labels) insist on beating each other over the head every year with crime stats. They can be spun however you like to the point of meaningless for the purposes of comparison.

    Statements like “reporting rates are rising” cannot be substantiated, as you’d have to know what the total rate was to know if the reporting rates had risen. The total can of course only be based on what is reported.

    I sincerely hope that the number of men beating up their partners is in decline and it is indeed the reporting rate that has gone up, but there is no way to know this. Maybe the unfortunate truth is that more men are beating up their partners and the reporting rate has stayed the same.

    Based on the police stats, it seems fair to say that the number of crimes committed per head of population has remained pretty static. A reduction in recorded crimes per 10,000 population from 1013 in 2006 to 1008 to 2007 is a step in the right direction, if hardly earth-shaking, though the 2005 figure of 985 puts the 2007 figure into better perspective. In keeping with the theme of lies, damn lies and statistics, the graph above could be interpreted as misrepresenting the magnitude of the drop under Labour, as the vertical scale does not start at zero.

    Most interestingly, the stats seem to put paid to the conventional wisdom around the link between crime and unemployment. The stats indicate reported crime has dropped around 12% under Labour while unemployment has dropped massively (more than half?). Perhaps criminals are just criminals regardless of who occupies the treasury benches.

  6. Steve Pierson 6

    sean 14. crime and unemployment are correlated – just because it’s not on a 1% for 1% basis does not mean it is not so.

    When was the highest unemployment in new zealand since the end of the war? 1992, when was the highest crime? 1992. Unemployment has fallen since 1999, so has crime. I might be able to do a scatter graph for you at some point illustrating the correlation (incidentally, I did one for unemployment and minimum wage, no coorelation – increasing the minimum wage does not increase unemployment)

  7. Steve Pierson 7

    Again. the reason why you sometimes don’t have zero on your scale is beucase you’re not looking at total value but change in value, and the number will never realistically approach zero. This grpah is cut at 0.08 crimes per person – a level we havne’t seen since 1979.

    As for reporitng rates. I’m simply saying what the Police statisticans say – reporting rates are up – and I think we can be safe believing their conclusions are evidence-based.

  8. Nice try Steve, but the papers say something different:

    “The New Zealand crime rate remained flat in 2007, while police resolved almost 10,000 more offences than the previous year.

    Police crime statistics released today showed a small increase in total recorded offences with 426,380 – 0.5 per cent more than 2006.

    However, with the population increasing this figure represented a drop of offences per 100,000 people.

    New Zealand recorded its lowest murder rate for a decade at 45, with 41 resolved before the end of the year.

    Robberies and kidnappings were also down by seven and two per cent respectively.

    Overall the picture was less rosy with violent crimes up by 6000 offences (12.3 per cent) – almost all of them relating to family violence.”

    Violent crime up 12.3% – hmmmmm. And what do they mean by “recorded” offences?

  9. Steve Pierson 9

    Inv2 – yes violent crime is up because of more reporting of family violence. That’s what the post says.

    Recorded crime is what is says, it acknowledges that not all crime is reported and that changes occur in how reported crime is recorded (the step chage in the 2005-2006 figures is due to a reporting change). If you don’t even understand the terms you’re discussing I’m surprised you have such strong opinions.

  10. So, when are we going to see one of your pretty charts showing violent crime in counties/manakau. Surely this region out to be the beneficiary of many of Teh Parties policy “improvements” in the past 9 years?

  11. sean14 11

    Hi Steve

    I will accept that there is some correlation between unemployment and crime and that it is not necessarily a linear one; police officers had told me that people with jobs and/or hobbies/activities are less likely to find themselves in front of a judge.

    So you are only using the police line about reporting rates, but what else are they going to say? You say their conclusions are evidence-based, but you ignore my point that they can’t be. In the absence of a crystal ball telling them exactly how many domestic assaults are committed each year, there is no way to know if the reporting rate has gone up, or if has remained static in the face of a rising number of domestic assaults (or even more unthinkably, and admittedly more improbably, dropped along with a large increase in the number of domestic assaults). It is reported as an increase in the reporting rate as that is the option that police (and myself, and you, and almost everybody else) would like to believe is the case – that does not make it true.

    CHeers, Sean.

  12. dave 12

    Do you really think that a 6000 increase in reported violent crime is due to extra reporting of an anti-domestic violence campaign that stated in September – eight months into the year?

  13. Matthew Pilott 13

    sean14 (and perhaps others), we can only debate the statistics for reported crime. Otherwise, the post would have to be along the lines of perople’s perceptions. These are, frankly, useless, as they can be influenced by a multitude of things.

    The same, of course, applies to reported crimes, but you can be specific here – if there’s a public campaign regarding domestic violence and reporting of domestic violence increases you may assume the two are causally linked. There is probably research to show a more definitive link, used to justify the campaign, but I don’t have such a resource.

    Equally, you could claim that a domestic violence campaign caused more actual (as opposed to reported) domestic violence, by, say, the advertising enraging those who commit such crimes. Or that the campaign had no effect, and there was a stark rise in domestic violence (yet not in other crimes). I would argue such hypotheses are much more unlikely than the former. The cause behind statistics have to be interpreted and this is where such disagreements occur.

    For example, I could point out to dave that there was an immediate 50% increase in men calling a depression line after a successful advertising campaign not dissimilar to the anti-domestic violence ones.

    Your points are not unreasonable, but I think that Steve’s post does illustrate the most logical assumption one can make in looking at these stats – unless you can give an equally likely explanation as to the increase in domestic violence, as opposed to a campaign resulting in increased reporting in crime.

  14. sean14 14

    Hi Matthew

    You make valid points. We can only debate the statistics for reported crime, in which case reported violent crime is up 12.3%. Is that due almost entirely to increased reporting of family violence? Let’s say it is, then what?

    There were 56,983 violent offences recorded in 2007, as opposed to 50,731 in 2006. That’s an increase of 6,252 violent offences. The police say that 5,800 of those offences were for family violence, leaving an increase in non-family violence-related violent crime of 452 offences. Conclusion: Under Labour, violent crime has gone up.

    However, my concern is not using crime statistics to beat Labour over the head (or praise them), I’m just frustrated at politicians of all stripes selling statistics as gospel, as long as you interpret them as they do, and not as their opposition does. Does anybody seriously think that if Annette King was in opposition she would be applauding an increase in the reporting rate? Of course she wouldn’t. She would be saying crime had gone up under that lot over there. Simon Power would be spinning the exact same line that Annette King is now if he were in government. We need to realise these arguments for the BS they are and call our politicians on it, that’s what I’m tryng to get at.

    Cheers, Sean.

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