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Crime falls again

Written By: - Date published: 11:13 am, October 1st, 2008 - 26 comments
Categories: crime - Tags:

Crime fell 1% in the last year from 1025 recorded crimes per 10,000 people to 1014. This is part of a pattern that has continued since National was booted from power and living conditions for the poor started to improve. The only big increase after 2000 you see in this graph (05-06) is a result of a change in reporting practice, not the actual level of crime.

Now, I know our right-wing viewers will be up in arms about this. They will point to the fact that recorded domestic violence offences are up as proof that we’re going to hell in a hand basket. But remember, the measure is not ‘crimes’ but ‘recorded crimes’ – crimes have to be discovered (not all crimes are), reported, and recorded to get in the stats. So, reporting levels matter a lot. The evidence the Police have is that it is higher reporting, due to campaigns like ‘it’s not OK’, and better Police practice is behind the increase in the number of reported domestic violent crime. As I have noted previously, homicides are violent crimes that end in death and have a near 100% reporting rate – homicides are down, it would be strange to assume there is more violence but less of it is resulting in death. So, the sensible conclusion is that violent crime is not necessarily occurring more, it is being reported more.

The other point is that it makes sense that crime would be falling. When unemployment is low, people who might otherwise commit crimes have a constructive way to occupy their time and make a living. High unemployment leads to poverty and alienation – a recipe for crime.

[incidentally, as one might expect, all the publicity around tagging seems to be flowing through into higher reporting. Related offences – theft and burglary – continue to fall, and have halved since 1997]

[for Akdnut – murders in Auckland. Note, the number is small 5-21 a year (average 12), so there’s a lot of random variation]

26 comments on “Crime falls again ”

  1. Also worth noting that the resolution rate is up. 10,000 more crimes were resolved this year – thse 1000 extra cops coming into play.

  2. Ben R 2

    Possibly also due to increased sentences introduced by Labour? Having serious offenders incarcerated for longer periods will obviously reduce crime.

  3. Bill 3

    From watching the media you’d think NZ was on the verge of descending into violent chaos. Just last night TVNZ ran top on a dairy robbery/fight with the camera lapping up a kid dripping in blood, then used it to lead to a rehash the dairy owner murder of a month or two back.

    It’s bloody tiresome.

    So crime is dropping, yet prison populations are the second highest in the world per capita (I think) and the media, nightly, ghoulishly fixates on personal trauma.

    Fuck the crime rate…the underlying issue, which is far more important, is one of a media and a state peddling fear to the population on a consistent basis.

    A frightened population is an easily controlled population.

    When you throw in all the B/S ‘safety’ rules amounting to a message that ‘the state’ will keep you safe (on pain of fines)…no tree climbing,round-a-bouts or see-saws… helmets, pads, goggles and gloves as standard attire, with guidelines and rules for anything and everything including, before too long, water wings for fish inside NZ territorial waters…and you have a two pronged dynamic converging at the same point: that point being one that encourages fear.

    Don’t go out (you’ll be stabbed…ie we are our own enemies) and don’t ‘do anything’ (recreationally or practically) without the legislatively backed safety precautions or your life will be in danger (you are a mortal danger to yourself…so we will fine you if you don’t ‘play safe’…for your own good, of course)

    There is something very disquieting about promulgating fear. It’s not going to lead anywhere good, and yet it just keeps on being promoted and reinforced with no comment, analysis or evident resistance.

    Like I say. Disquieting.

  4. But… but.. but I heard from a mate of a mate a guy in Christchurch who was robbed by a maori guy… or he might have been an islander… So you must be wrong!

  5. Bill 5

    Ah, Christchurch! Just recently got some global award for being a safe city. Yet it gives me the heeby-jeebies. Anyway. Your mate’s, mate’s mate should have tooled up…with all required safety gear/precautions included and then wrapped himself up in cotton wool and gone to bed.

    I’d say he should be fined for being irresponsible.

  6. sean 6

    These figures are still bad – it means everyone in New Zealand has more than a 1 in 10 chance of having a crime committed against them this year.

    And you guys think that is good?

  7. Ben R 7

    “So crime is dropping, yet prison populations are the second highest in the world per capita (I think) and the media, nightly, ghoulishly fixates on personal trauma.”

    As I said above, I suspect the increasing prison population is part of the reason why the crime rate is declining (in addition to relatively low unemployment, increasing police numbers).

    “the underlying issue, which is far more important, is one of a media and a state peddling fear to the population on a consistent basis.”

    Presumably they wouldn’t be able to if people stopped getting killed?

    “When you throw in all the B/S ?safety? rules”

    What, like expecting people to wear seatbelts, or lifejackets? Surely you agree we need some safety rules?

  8. Bill 8


    A sheep broke through my fence yesterday and ate some veggies. No big deal. Rounded her up and fixed the fence.

    If it had been a person, and I’d reported it we would have had criminal damage to property, trespass and theft.


  9. Quoth the Raven 9

    Bill – Are you from Auckland? Because Auckland has higher crime than Christchurch. I don’t ever feel unsafe here. I haven’t been a victim of crime in over a decade.

  10. Bill 10

    Ben R

    Throwing people in jail is, for the most part, stupid and counter productive. Yes, there is a very small minority of people for who jail could arguably be the only solution we have. This is not an argument I’m going to pursue though since positions are deeply entrenched on the issue. You have my view and I know yours. Well leave it there.

    The media seems to gleefully report on ‘every’ instance of violence. Every night there is a death or an act of violence being forced on your experience/perception. It’s way out of kilter with the actual instances you have of these things in your real life. It’s a pernicious drip feed of fear and insecurity which has an effect on you in spite of your real life/ first hand experiences.

    And there is room for legislated safety. But NZ has has become unhealthily obsessed. It’s way, way over the top and, I believe, detrimental. But I said that in my previous comment.

  11. sean. I think it’s better.

  12. rave 12

    Crime falls? Well there you go, it must have been pushed.

    I think the family violence problem is symptomatic of the violence done to the family by the money traders. There is nothing like having your roof ripped off to bring out the violence.

    Its good that family violence is being outed and reported, but when are the real perpetrators going to be outed and reported?

    Oh I forgot, its happening as we see the financiers begging for their lives.

  13. Bill 13

    Quoth the Raven.

    “I don’t ever feel unsafe here. I haven’t been a victim of crime in over a decade.”

    That’s my point. We are not under siege…our real life experience tells us so. But the media would have us believe that something random and nasty is just around the next corner. And it ‘works’ to an ever increasing degree.

    When we are told that bad shit is rampant often enough then it follows that increasing numbers of people begin to become hesitant… in many little ways…maybe they begin to question whether to take the shortcut down the alley as opposed to going the long way (for a moment they think the worst); or find that they think about crossing the road to avoid a group of kids/teens; or up their pace a little because of those loud voices…and so it goes.

    Eventually, the initial reaction to a stranger or a group of strangers is more defensive and less open. Kind of like the old US films where an alien lands and the first reaction is to call in the tanks and point guns at their heads until they prove themselves ‘safe’, rather than just wandering up and saying hello.

  14. Ben R 14

    “Throwing people in jail is, for the most part, stupid and counter productive. Yes, there is a very small minority of people for who jail could arguably be the only solution we have.”

    It may be stupid, but it seems to reduce crime rates.

    It’s not as though people get thrown in jail lightly. The offending has to be serious and generally the people who receive custodial sentences are not first time offenders. They tend to have long histories & have previously served community service.

  15. Akdnut 15

    Well I live in Auckland and I agree that the number of deaths has increased (but surely more people – as in population growth = more crime) and that violent crime up here on an average is reported moreso than it was 10-15 years ago. But I think that I would prefer to live here than in Christchurch because just looking at the amount of deaths and that severity of commited crimes that are shown on the news, per capita Auckland has to be safer plus its a lot warmer

  16. Akdnut. The number of homicides in Auckland is not up. Look at the stats. OK, I know you won’t so I’ve made you the graph, see the post again.

  17. Bill 17

    “…amount of deaths and that severity of commited crimes that are shown ON THE NEWS…”

    Which bears, at best, a very questionable semblance to reality. The gauge has to be your actual experience and not your virtual experience as constructed by the news media amongst others. Otherwise your perception will be wrong because the news et al love to exaggerate the sensational and would have you believe there’s a thug on every corner, a stabber in every street and a shooter in every doorway.

    Ben R.

    “It may be stupid, but it seems to reduce crime rates”

    So would limb amputation, summary execution and deportation.

    “They tend to have long histories & have previously served community service”

    And were they offered any skill/ trade training? Rehabilitation? Any doors opened that may have led to a meaningful and sustainable change in lifestyle/habits or perceptions? Aided in developing a sense of self empowerment? I doubt it. Nothing much beyond ‘That was bad. Do you recognise good from bad now? Good. Good-bye and good luck.’ would be my guess.

  18. Matthew Pilott 18

    Sean, there is no ‘good level of crime.

    Your 1 in 10 stat is wrong though. One ‘crime’ is usually a good dozen or so offences.

    Jack a car, speed around a bit and get snapped: one person’s car stolen.

    Auto theft.
    Dangerous driving.
    Posession of drug utensils.
    Posession of a class ‘c’ druns.
    Failing to stop.
    Resisting arrest.
    Breaching Bail conditions.
    And so on.

    Probably more like 1 in 50. And no, it’s not “good” Sean, just not the unprecedented disaster some would have you believe.

  19. Ben R 19

    “And were they offered any skill/ trade training? Rehabilitation? Any doors opened that may have led to a meaningful and sustainable change in lifestyle/habits or perceptions?”

    Where it was obviously a major factor I remember people being referred for drug & alchohol treatment.

    Skill or trade training that is something that probably should be looked at rather than just community work. There was a story a month or so ago about Hawkins Construction offering work to about 12 young offenders in Northcote with reasonably good results.

    In relation to youth offenders it will also be interesting to see how the Te Hurihanga programme works out.

  20. Bill 20

    Ben R

    D&A in jail works exactly like this if you are on the methadone programme. If you have a sentence long enough (and it’s not very long) you are bumped off your ‘done…stepped down and off very fast by halving the dose every day. No counselling, no support, no secondary drugs to assist with the withdrawal. Just cold turkey. Hardly ‘treatment’.

    I’d guess, although I don’t know, that alcohol and other drug addiction ‘treatments’ are the same.

    In other words, an absolutely pointless and cruel add on to a custodial sentence if you are an addict that does not lead to long term controlled use or abstinence.

  21. Akdnut 21

    thanx steve appreciate that, and that was the point i was trying to make that its as safe here now as ever it was. Between 76-79 there were 174 homicides requiring autotopsies at 12.428571….. per year http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1585887 for a population of around 927775 http://www.bigcities.govt.nz/pdf2001/population.pdf Coupled with the stats in your graph it just proves that the hype is all bs and over exagerated by media focusing in on this crap especially in Auckland. Although it really does feel as tho there have been more murders. (Just me I guess)

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