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Crime leaps along with unemployment

Written By: - Date published: 1:35 pm, October 1st, 2009 - 29 comments
Categories: crime, national/act government, unemployment - Tags:

The Police statistics out today show the crime rate continues to follow the unemployment rate. With unemployment on the rise, so is crime. Recorded crimes per person leapt 2.8% in the June year, as unemployment climbed from 4% to 6%.

It’s obviously not a coincidence. Crime is a symptom of a society in distress, the root cause is unemployment – causing poverty, disconnection from society, and a lack of positive ways to spend one’s time. When we look at which offences are increasing, it’s burglary, car conversion, drugs offences, and violence (although hopefully that’s still due to higher reporting, nearly all the increase is recorded violence in homes).

What should be clear is that ‘getting tough on crime’ isn’t working. It has never worked. Judith Collins can play at being crusher all she likes but, despite locking more people up than ever, despite making parole tougher, crime is going up and will keep on going up as long as unemployment does.

Punishing people after the fact will never be a solution to crime. All the science, all the studies going back decades prove that. We need sensible policies, not knee-jerk ideology. We need our society to stop creating criminals in the first place, rather than simply trying to catch and punish people once crimes have been committed. The single best way to do that is a full employment policy.

29 comments on “Crime leaps along with unemployment”

  1. r0b 1

    This seems so simple and so completely blindingly obvious. Unemployment and crime are linked. Why don’t NACT get it? Enough with the “tough on crime” posturing. Create jobs!

    • cocamc 1.1

      What seems so blindingly obvious to me is that crime has increased over the past few years yet pre the recession we had record low unemployment. Your post doesn’t make sense

      • r0b 1.1.1

        crime has increased over the past few years

        No, you are simply wrong about that.

      • snoozer 1.1.2

        “What seems so blindingly obvious to me is that crime has increased over the past few years”

        That, dear cocmac, is because your knowledge is based on wowserism in Granny Herald, rather than the facts.

        Check out the crime numbers in the Stats NZ table builder or the crime archives on the Standard, plenty of stats there, and come back to us a bit less ignorant.

        • cocamc

          So the police say this
          “Violence rose 7 percent, on top of an increase last year of 11.1 percent. It was driven almost entirely by increased recording and reporting of family violence.”
          So that means crime increased 11.1 percent last year which will be for the previous twelve months. Yes driven by more reporting but the crime rates were still increasing

          • r0b

            Cocamac – give it up. You are wrong. Crime fell during the last Labour government.

            University of Auckland: NZ crime rates drop
            The crime rate in New Zealand has steadily decreased over the past decade, contrary to media reports, show the results of a new study.

            “This is contrary to popular perception,” says Julia Tolmie, co-editor of Criminal Justice in New Zealand (published by Lexis Nexis) and associate professor of law at The University of Auckland.

            SP at The Standard: 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%.

            3 News: The overall crime rate was down in the year ended June 30, but a surge in reported family violence offences meant violent crime was up 11 percent. Annual crime statistics released today for the financial year to June 30 showed 107 more offences were recorded in the year than in the June 2007 year. Adjusted for the population increase in the same period, this was a 1 percent decrease, police said.

            Violence offences rose 11.1 percent — with the family violence sub-category increasing 29 percent. Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls said the increase was due to the It’s Not OK campaign and mandatory police training on family violence which prompted an increase in reporting of family violence.

            The Herald: 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.

          • snoozer

            “Violence rose 7 percent, on top of an increase last year of 11.1 percent…So that means crime increased 11.1 percent last year”

            No, it means recorded violent crime rose 11.1%. Total crime fell.

            Did you not understand the difference or did you think we wouldn’t and you could trick us? Dumb or dodgy, cocmac, which is it?

    • George D 1.2

      If it’s so blindingly obvious, why does Phil Goff not understand?

      • r0b 1.2.1

        I agree – I think Labour does too much “tough on crime” rhetoric too. But I think you’ll find that Labour is very keen on creating jobs and alleviating poverty – actually effectively addressing the root causes of crime.

        • gitmo

          Don’t you mean addressing some of the root causes of crime.

          Let’s be realistic you could have full employment and zero poverty but would still have crime. I also believe that too often poverty is used as an excuse for criminal acts, we need to remember that even if certain groups are over represented in certain negative statistics that over representation may still only represent a small percentage of a the group in question.

          • r0b

            Don’t you mean addressing some of the root causes of crime.

            Sure, OK. But certainly the main ones. Not sure I agree with the rest of your comment, but some other time perhaps…

    • Rob 1.3

      I will be employing two new heads next week. We managed to keep quite a few jobs through the last 6 mths and we did use the 9 day fortnight scheme as well. For a while we were looking at closing down an afternoon shift and I am in the manufacturing sector supplying into construction.

      I honestly think we have been lucky in this recession, unemployment could have quite easily gone over 10 % if employers really got startled, but I think most companies have held it together as best they could and fingers crossed our markets look like they are coming back.

      How do you create jobs, by making a stable and fair environment to trade in. If it gets to hard then why bother.

      • Loco Burro 1.3.1

        “I honestly think we have been lucky in this recession, unemployment could have quite easily gone over 10 % if employers really got startled”

        I wouldn’t speak too soon, unemployment is likely to continue to rise for a longer period of time after a technical recession ends. Also unemployment figures will not go down for even longer, which then feeds into the crime statistics further.
        I would like to add also it is especially worrying when you have a government which while publicly decrying unepmployment remains rather unmoved on the policy front.

  2. outofbed 2

    I agree with the post
    Although to be fair Labour also seems to have a lock em up mentality its a shame we can’t have a real debate on the issue without the likes of the The Sensible Sentencing Trust kicking up a fuss every time someone points out the obvious.

    • George D 2.1

      I’ll quote what I said in response to a blog post at Public Address

      Once Phil Goff is no longer leader of the Labour Party, it will be possible to have a sensible discussion on crime. A huge part of the problem is that the lynchmob dominate the conversation, but that Labour just sit there agreeing or keeping their mouth shut. There is no vigorous defence of evidence based crime policy, and the media can’t be bothered to do that on its own.

      In the meantime, crime will continue to increase, we will pay billions for new prisons and prisoners, and we will all be unhappier.

      I can understand if the Labour Party won’t argue something because it is scared of the backlash. But it is deeper than that. Phil Goff actually believes in this stuff. Eventually you have to try and set the terms of the debate, but when the only person in Parliament attempting to do so is Nandor Tanczos (and whoever has replaced him as justice spokesperson in the Greens), it ain’t going to happen.

  3. Zaphod Beeblebrox 3

    Another aspect of how stimulus spending pays for itself

  4. JohnDee 4

    This post just reminded me how quit Rodney Hide had been.
    It makes me wonder what he is trying to slip under the radar.
    Might be about time we had a “Rodney Watch” site so we can keep a check on the trust-less bastard.

    Sorry to be off post.

  5. Bill 5

    Are there any figures relating to the numbers of people incarcerated who are on mental health medications, or the numbers of prescriptions issued within the prison service to inmates?

    While I agree that unemployment can lead to increased stresses I’m not so sure that it leads directly to crime. I suspect that it leads to mental health episodes that then lead to crimes being committed.

    And although many mental health episodes will be short lived and not require medication or other interventions, when the perpetrator of a crime was mentally stressed rather than criminal but is subsequently jailed…..

  6. HitchensFan 6

    Collins. Snort. That woman is using up good oxygen. Hard,cruel, cold AND thick. Such an attractive combination.

  7. BLiP 7

    I spent a half-hour on the phone last night with a marketing rep asking all sorts of questions about the police and crime in general. The essential thrust of the questions seemed designed to get my perceptions of the police and whether or not I felt safe in my community.

    In relation to the “Cindy Effect”, it would seem there is work afoot to gather information for a campaign to dampen down the hysteria worked up before the last election.

    But, yeah – absolutely no doubt: increased unemployment means increased crime.

  8. But I thought John Key and National were going to solve crime, amongst other things AND give me a tax cut. He promised didn’t he?

    I want my money back. Who do I sue?

  9. dave 9

    Are you conflating crime with crime rates again? just because the crime rate did not increase every year, this does not mean that crime did not increase in the past few years.

    Because it did.And it still is. Except this time the crime rate has also increased.

    • r0b 9.1

      Are you conflating crime with crime rates again?

      I don’t think so Dave, the stuff I’ve quoted is pretty clear that it is crime per 10,000 people (crime rate) that is falling.

      If you want to argue that “crime is increasing” just because the population is growing then go right ahead. But your words won’t mean what most people use the words for. Crime was falling under the last Labour government, according to the University of Auckland, the media, and oh by the way the Police. Now it is rising again.

      • BLiP 9.1.1

        Its the New Zealand Fox News Herald that’s spinning the increase in crime as being due to the increase in population.

        There were 442,540 recorded offences compared with 426,690 the previous year, an increase of 3.7 per cent. However, New Zealand’s population increased by about 1 per cent which meant the offence rate per head of population increased by 2.8 per cent.

        How do these people sleep at night?

    • snoozer 9.2

      dave. everyone always talks about crime in terms of crime rate. Anything else doesn’t make sense.

      Anyway, the total number of recorded offences fell in the early 2000s after an all time high of 482,000 in 1997, and was steady at 426,000 for the last three years before jumping to 442,000 this year.


  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    I would argue that it’s not a full employment policy that is the answer but a no poverty policy that would achieve the drop in crime. This is because people turn to crime when they have no other means of supporting themselves. They lose their job, their incomes gone and the can’t put food on the table, pay the rent etc this forces them to look for other means to support themselves and for some people this will be crime.

    Full employment would be part of such a no poverty policy but, considering the vagaries of the capitalist socio-economic system, not something that could be guaranteed at all times.

  11. outofbed 11

    Put simply
    If you are a poor unskilled landless person. and you want to eat. You can either sell your labour for as much as you can get to people who want to pay you a little as they can or..
    turn to crime

  12. SPC 12

    Violence is not as directly linked to unemployment as property crime is. Thus there can be rising levels of violence (even if only caused by increased reporting of domestic violence as we try and eradicate violence from the family home) while the crime rate is falling

    Violent crime can be a function of economic disparity associated with ethnic variance, but does not require high levels of unemployment (just low wages for some in a wealthier wider society).

    I am a little wary of the idea of associating the “spare time unemployed poor” with increasing crime. Many beneficiaries are raising up families and such attitudes push such people into time management forms of pseudo job search/work for welfare which do little for their well being or their families – neither upskilling them nor improving the families economic well-being.

    We need to sustain and develop more training opportunities, counter-cyclical job creating investment and more value in workers having time off from work – increasing job sharing.

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