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Crime: out of control?

Written By: - Date published: 3:07 pm, November 1st, 2007 - 59 comments
Categories: crime - Tags:

crime 2

John Key made a speech to the Police Association today proposing a whole raft of new police powers, ranging from banning gangs to taking DNA samples from anyone who is arrested, regardless of whether they’re found guilty or innocent.

To justify these proposed new powers he relied heavily on the subtext that crime is out of control and we have a government letting criminals get away with blue murder.

Police need new laws and powers to fight “21st Century crime”, he said. “The National Party is convinced we can do better at putting in place the laws and policies needed to front-up to criminality in our society… when our leaders give in to crime, our society pays the price.”

But is crime really out of control? As usual, John was somewhat lacking in substance:

“The size of the criminal threat is measurable not only by crime statistics, but by the widespread fears of everyday Kiwis. Kiwis fear that ours is not a safe society.

Notice he didn’t talk about what the stats actually say, but relied instead on what “Kiwis fear”.

And there’s a good reason for this. Because you see, for all their talk of law and order, the record shows the Nats just aren’t that good at cutting crime. Not only is crime going down under Labour, it’s going down at a faster rate than it ever did under National.

What today’s speech shows is that rather than basing his policies on evidence and what’s best for New Zealanders, John Key is basing them on fear. Fear he’s more than happy to stoke himself:

“They fear that their personal security is at risk: Children being beaten to death by their parents. Paroled offenders murdering innocent citizens. Gang shootings. P-induced frenzied attacks on innocent citizens. Youth gangs intimidating communities. These things strike worry into the hearts of all New Zealanders.”

Yes John, they do. Because people they should be able to trust, like you, lie to them about the threat of crime to scare them into voting for you. It’s cynical politics at its worst, and you deserve to be pilloried for it.

(Police crime stats)

59 comments on “Crime: out of control? ”

  1. Sam Dixon 1

    As usual, National can only go for window-dressing not the root causes of social problems.

    Crime went up and stayed high under National beecuase they kept wages low, unemployment up, and benifits too low to live on. Laobur changed that and crime came down.

    Crime is an outcome of bad eocnomic and social conditions. Fixing thsoe conditions is the key to bringing crime down.. but doing that would mean creating a fairer and more equal society, whereas National wants wealth concerntrated inthe hands of the lucky few.

  2. Conor Roberts 2

    The problem with crime reporting is two fold:

    Firstly, the media takes total crime stats as the indicator of how much crime there is. The results then paint a false picture – it is far better to report crime as a number per 100,000 people so we can get a fair indication of how much there actually is.

    Secondly, if it bleeds it leads. The representation of crime is such that it is sensationalised and personalised. So people get a sense that it is exploding and they are not safe.

    The problem with this is that it leads to irrational ‘hang-em-high’ responses from the media and politicians – and no examination of where crime comes from or how best to treat it. John Key’s speech is completed devoid of any examination of the causes of crime and that is a shame.

  3. Robinsod 3

    Ah, fear mongering – the last refuge of the desperate righty.

  4. Sam Dixon 4

    PS – man that’s a big drop –

    I checked the figures myself (thanks for posting the link Tane):

    National saw crime rise 0.5% between 1991 and 1998 (and that doesn’t show that it peaked during that time),

    Labour’s had a 8% drop so far.

  5. Sam Dixon 5

    Average crimes per capita under National: 0.127

    Average crimes per capita under Labour: 0.107

    Drop of 16%

    And those losers expect us to put them back in charge?

  6. Santa Claws 6

    Hey Sambo, ever get sore lips from blowing Tane’s trumpet?

  7. Tane 7

    So Santa, no rebuttal of the fact that National – the law and order party – suck at cutting crime?

  8. Robinsod 8

    Hey Claw ever get sore lips from blowing me? Fuck off.

  9. Leftie 9

    John Key is exaggerating for his cause. It is well known that poverty and crime go hand in hand.

    Has anyone seen “In a Land of Plenty”? This shows the righties manipulating unemployment higher to help keep NZ wages low.

  10. Santa Claws 10

    Robespierre – you been doing it to Tane too? Thought so.

    Did you get banned again already? Helen won’t be happy about that! You might get demoted.

  11. Tane 11

    Santa, can you try and refrain from the homophobic bullshit? I’d really rather not have to moderate this site. And ‘sod, I know you’re just responding to him, but please don’t feed the trolls.

  12. Robinsod 12

    Sorry Tane – it’s just Tony gets me so riled…

  13. Robinsod 13

    Oh and santa – how did you know I was a paid commentor? Next you’ll out me for being imported from New York just to take the piss out of you. (I’ve got your SIS file by the way). oh and by the way I know Tane won’t like me saying this but… well, y’know by now…

  14. Santa Claws 14

    You can witter on about statistics all you want really – refer to Mark Twain.

    Here’s what most people see in the headlines every day. No amount of “0.10 crimes per person” charting is going to win this argument in the public space.

    “Vicious attackers on the run and on P, say police ”

    “Four in court over brutal home invasion ”

    “Home invasion pair ‘armed and dangerous’ ”

    “What’s the answer to violent crime? Violent crime has increased in the past year, police statistics released

    “The rising level of violent crime reflected in the latest crime statistics is a “national disgrace” and a burden for those battling domestic violence, the head of Women’s Refuge says.”

    “Life sentence for street-gang killer”

    “Police arrest Hamilton teen for murder”

    “Child murder accused named, given bail”

    “Gunshots force family to flee home”

    “Gang killer to serve at least 17 years”

    I notice you didn’t answer my questions on your chart.

    If you want to avoid moderation, then maybe a few more words in Robespierre’s ear regarding personal threats would help.

    Leftie – I thought it was personal insults, stress, and defending the honour of a women that caused crime?

    Eerily relevant captcha – assailant following.

  15. Robinsod 15

    If you want to avoid moderation, then maybe a few more words in Robespierre’s ear regarding personal threats would help.

    Oh santa – what thin skin you have. And do you really think alluding to a Twain quote that’s so repeated it’s become a cliche makes you sound smart? You’re a joke santa. F_____

  16. Tane 16

    refer to Mark Twain.

    I know I’m trying to keep some standards here, but Christ you’re a moron Santa. So Mark Twain made some quip about statistics – how the hell does that have any relevance?

    The fact is anecdotes don’t tell you shite. So a lot of crimes get committed? Of course they do – there are a lot of people, and people commit crimes. It’s pretty bloody simple mate.

    The only way to know whether or not crime is going up or down is to refer to the statistics. ‘But my brother got his house robbed last week’ just doesn’t cut it as evidence when the police are telling us there have been fewer robberies reported overall.

    Honestly mate, you’re embarrassing yourself.

  17. Tane 17

    Santy’s shtick on statistics reminds me of those climate change deniers who’re all like “they talk a lot about this global warming, but it’s been raining all week”.

    Too stupid for words.

  18. Don’t want to threadjack, but I think you piece was excellent and I’ve just posted, what I hope is a complement:


  19. Mike 19

    I think santa claws pretty much proves the point, its all scare tactics headlines and no substance. Prepare for the ‘sensible’ sentacing trusts impending brain fart on the topic, perpetuating the cycle of fear…

  20. Brain fart! That’s friggin gold.

  21. Tane 21

    Mike, they’ve already done it. Spot the two errors and win a chocolate fish.

    “The only people who have anything to fear from this are those committing the crimes.and we have no sympathy for them.”

    “Criminals have been given the upper-hand for to long, Nationals policy is nothing but a very small step in the right direction.”


    (Captcha is “Idiot Trust” – classic)

  22. Santa Claws 22

    Tiny – no respect earned if you can’t face posting the violent crime statistics.

    Get over the name calling and read the newspapers – do you really think you can win an election with statistics.

    I’m sure labour will be wheeling out the scare tactics – “ooh look, national is going to sell all our skools to mcquarry bank ooh”. Seems to be I’ve seen Sambo post that exact line.

  23. Tane 23

    Santa, I’m happy to break the stats down as far as you’d like, but that’ll have to wait for another day. I’m sure Davey will find some way to distort them on sewerblog tomorrow.

    Hang on, I thought you didn’t believe in statistics? Something about Mark Twain?

  24. Robinsod 24

    Hey Tony Claws – blogblog runs the violent crime stats and guess what? You’re wrong again. Is anyone here really surprised?

  25. Tane 25

    Oh, and Icky, cheers for the props. Nice work on your end too.

  26. Santa Clawz 26

    Its not that I don’t believe in statistics – I just believe that it is possible to selectively use them to justify almost any point of view. David will twist them his way (which y’all are happy to point out), and you will twist them your way. Doesn’t mean that you can claim the ‘correct’ use of any statistic set.

    Also, how many Labour press releases on ‘good’ statistics make the headlines?

    When it comes to Law and Order, you just have to accept that violent crime, baby killers, and sex offenders rule the media and public concern. An aggregate measure that includes shoplifting and tagging just doesn’t interest most people, except Minister who are looking for good news or partisan bloggers looking for a pretty picture.

  27. Robinsod 27

    That should be “it’s” Tony Claws (how many times do I need to point out how to use an apostrophe before you get it) and once again (‘cos you’re a little slow) blogblog’s post shows no rise in violent crime. Have you considered taking an adult literacy class? You might want to throw some numeracy in there too and maybe a little course on public speaking so you don’t fuck up the next health policy press conference.

  28. Tane 28

    Also, how many Labour press releases on ‘good’ statistics make the headlines?

    Not very many, and I’d agree a press release made up of statistics wouldn’t be the most riveting read. But a blog’s a different medium, and people are reading it for different reasons – so different rules apply. You wouldn’t put a graph in a press release, would you?

    Of course, I’m not saying Labour do good press releases. They’re actually pretty poor at spin compared to the Nats. But that’s a different story altogether…

  29. the sprout 29

    Santy said: “read the newspapers – do you really think you can win an election with statistics”

    and there’s the source of his problem, he believes the newspapers but not empirical data. how funny is that?
    and santy, i think you’ll find that winning elections has everything to do with those awkward numbers that embarrass you so.

  30. Andrew Jull 30

    Actually statistics don’t lie, but people do, usually by failing to fully report assumptions used in calculations and by not giving due consideration to the methods (eg most polls don’t report that they are reflecting the views of decided voters and the n of ~1000 – a commonly used number to get a standard error of about 3% – is therefore not accurate; the actual n is a subgroup of the ~1000).

    It is very appropriate to use an incidence rate for crime stats eg x/1000 or whatever the desired denominator is, so long as the denominator is revealed. Denominators could be reported crimes, actual crimes (some reports are false), etc. It would be even more accurate to adjust the rates for demographic changes ie an ageing population tends to commit less crime (arguably) than a younger population, so that needs to be factor in if really accurate estimates are to be made.

    What does concern me about the graph is that Labour’s starting point is lower than National’s finishing point despite time being continuous. There are reasonable explanations ie the last National quarter and first Labour quarter are removed because of the overlap. Not all voters are anumerate, and such details should be included in a blog (Perhaps oddly I would also expect such details in a newspaper report, but I am mostly disappointed in that regard).

  31. Santa…go look at our Kiwiblog stats…we specifically break out violent crime – the level of crime and its average seriousness…sorry but your argument just don’t hunt.

  32. Sam Dixon 32

    Andrew Jull – the starting point for Labour doesn’t connect to National’s end point on the graph – check the caption -1991-1998 vs 2000-2007 – these are fiscal years, so both start at the end of the first fiscal year in which the party took power and Labour hasn’t had 3 full terms for comaprative figures yet, so only naitonl’s first 8 years are there.

    Its not being tricky, its all clearly laid out for you.

  33. Santa Claws 33

    Icky – selective use on your blog unfortunately, choosing to use conviction rates – oh dear.

    Now, I think all here would agree that the general perception is that South Auckland is a Labour stronghold, and an area of lower incomes and relatively higher unemployment.

    Therefore, by Sam’s argument the crime rate in that area should have substantially decreased, since those below average folks are much better off under Labour.

    Lets look at violent offences since these are the ‘headline’ issue with crime – you don’t get many calls for shoplifters to be given more jail time.

    Here’s the table, per capita. Maybe Tane will do the honors of posting a pretty graph.

    1997 0.0137
    1998 0.0142
    1999 0.0136
    2000 0.0148
    2001 0.0149
    2002 0.0150
    2003 0.0133
    2004 0.0130
    2005 0.0150
    2006 0.0162

    This is calender years, which are fine for this purpose. No funny missing years either.

    Oh my goodness, from 1999 (mainly a National year) to 2006 there was a 19% increase – in the very area where Labour support should be the strongest. How can this be?

  34. Andrew Jull 34

    Simon – thanks for pointing that out the caption – my mistake. However, I like transparency and the rationale for absenting the 1999 fiscal year was not presented with the graph. No accusation of cunning is implied; my simple desire is for accuracy of communication. By the way, another interesting graphic is to plot GDP growth by political terms over the three and half decades. Labour looks decidedly better (on the whole) than National.

  35. Colonel Masters 35

    Santa may well be right about the hysterical mainstream media. Leading headline on the Herald site at the moment…

    “Convicted axe murderer on the loose”

    (A much more melodramatic ring to it than Stuff’s mundane “Police hunting escaped murderer”.)

    Also, the Herald shows it with their blood-red “Breaking News” graphic 😮

    All the careful statistical analysis you like to perform will be driven out of the voting public’s heads when they see such material on a near daily basis.

  36. Sam Dixon 36

    Colonial Masters – still, its worth the effort to not let such rubbish go unchallenged.

    Santa – ummm, you’re not clear in your post but it looks like you’ve got recorded crimes in South Auckland per New Zealander (either that or South Auckland’s crime rate is a fraction of the National average). That’s not going to give you a workable comparison over time because the South Auckland population is growing much faster than the rest of New Zealand’s – meaning the number of cirmes per NZer n South Auckland will grow even if its staying constant per South Aucklander.

    You need to compare recorded crimes in South Auckland per person in South Auckland to get anything meaningful.

    Sorry, you’re simply not going to be able to slip such simple tricks past me.

  37. Santa Claws 37

    Sambo – Those are using Stats estimate of corresponding population in the Counties-Manakau police region. Feel free to post an email address and I’ll send you the spreadsheet.

    Try to answer the substantive issue next time.

    Since you will no doubt complain again here is a few more figures for you to contemplate:

    Violence up 19%
    Sexual up 36%
    Drugs & AntiSocial up 12%
    Property Damage up 17%
    Administrative up a shocking 92%

    To show I’m not biased, there are a couple of decreases too:

    Dishonesty down 8%
    Property Abuse down 26%

    Since Dishonesty offences are a large proportion of the reported crimes (about 60%) the overall increase since 1999 is only 1%.

    I think that most people will understand that the increases in the categories of serious crime are a concern, and that mixing low-level offences into the picture is misleading.

    Anyway, its time for a glass of red wine and a break from the keyboard.

  38. Sam Dixon 38

    Santa – your numbers must be wrong becuase they are an order of magnitiude lower than than the rest of New Zealand and I’m rpetty sure Counties-Manukau is not a crime-free haven… now, I found the acutal recorded crime per capita figures for Counties-Manukau at the Police Sats website:

    1998: 0.123
    1999: 0.119
    2000: 0.117
    2001: 0.113
    2002: 0.114
    2003: 0.120
    2004: 0.100
    2005: 0.097
    2006: 0.119
    2007: 0.111
    there’s a grpah already here if you like: http://www.police.govt.nz/service/statistics/2007/fiscal/stats-counties-manukau-20070630.pdf page 18

    Administrative offences are only recorded if the authorities discover them and have the resources to take action – you’ll note the biggest two classes of admin offence are imgation and against justice offences – the ulk of which are failing to answer bail – that number skyrocketed when the courts were allocated the resources to follow up on people who fail to answer – you can see the number triples from 2005 to 2006..

    … drug offences are much of the same class – as there is no direct victim to report the offences they only make it into the figures if the authorities discover them – that means an increase is as much lilely to be due to increased resourcing as increased elvles of actual crime.

    You’ve got to be very careful when you start to breakup the crime figures beucase there’s always a level lower and there are value judgements about which crimes matter. For instance:

    murders are down 8% since 1999
    (but the nubmers are too small for that too be meaningful).

    what is intersting though is that only 33 of 48 murders were solved that year (30 of 45 in 1998), compared to 48 of 50 last year.

    And when you look into the violence numbers the biggest increase is in ‘threats and intimidation’ – not what most people associate with violent crime. The three classes of assualt have increased 10% per capita (and there is a shift towards them being classifed as more serious) but the police analysis is that is mainly due to higher reporting of domestic violence, and cellphones which mean assaults are reported immediately when once they weren’t at all.

  39. Sam Dixon 39

    and lets be clear. in 1998 there were 465,834 recorded offences – in 2007, 426,584. take into acocunt population change and the drop is 18%.

  40. Santa Claws 40

    Violent offences Sambo, drop the spin and read my post. Thats why the number is lower than the total

    Lets me clear – in 1999 there were in 5423
    COUNTIES MANAKAU – surely Labour heartland.

    In 2007 there where 7442

    Even adjusting for population IN THAT REGION thats a 19% INCREASE

    Is that simple enough for you to follow?

    I know its diffucult for you to face the facts, but please try and explain how Labour policies have ‘reduced’ those figures.

  41. Santa Claws 41

    Hey Sambo, I note that you haven’t replied with your excuses yet for the 19% increase in violent crime in the labour heartland of South Auckland. I really did want to see which direction of spin or statistical manipulation you are going to attempt. Maybe the ‘more reporting is better’ line or the ‘should look at convictions only approach’ would be good starting points. Normally you could have gone with ‘oppressive Nat-voting business owners raping workers’ but since Labour has done so much with minimum wage increases and lower unemployment, there can’t be much poverty in South Auckland anymore.

    I guess you may be busy with damage control after the weekends addition to the violent crime stats though.

  42. Sam Dixon 42

    Santy – sorry, I thought you were talking all crimes, not just violent, hence the confusion.

    Well, for starts remember:
    The replacement of the Wanganui computer by a more accurate system produced a step-change increase in crime figures in general in 2005 – that can be seen in the CM violence figures.

    the increase was 0.0047 violent crimes per person

    you have to be careful about saying only violent crimes matters as a metric – other crimes matter and not all vioeltn crimes are created equal:
    25% of violent crime in CM is ‘intimidation and threats’, not acutal acts of violence, and this class accounted for 39% of the increase.

    Reporting is increasing, especially of domestic violence, (which makes up 49% of violent crime). Nearly all offences catagorised under serious assualt occur in homes – they make up 39% of violent crimes and they account for 35% of the increase in violent crime in CM over those 10 years… The Police attribute the increase to higher reporting of domestic violence which has historically been highly underreported.

    So, the Polcie are recording crime better, reporting is up, and the biggest increases are in domestic violence and threats and intimiation both of which are highly underreported and which have growing reporting rates… the bulk of the increase in recorded violent crime is explaned without an increase in actual violent crime.

  43. Santa Claws 43

    A masterpiece of sophistry Sambo. So what you are saying is that is OK to claim that a ‘reduction is crime’ is due to Labour policies, but any increase is due to other factors, and the reported increase is just statistics?

    I can see how you fit in with your Labour colleagues so well.

    Here’s Tane quoting Key above:

    “They fear that their personal security is at risk: Children being beaten to death by their parents. Paroled offenders murdering innocent citizens. Gang shootings. P-induced frenzied attacks on innocent citizens. Youth gangs intimidating communities. These things strike worry into the hearts of all New Zealanders.”

    Yes John, they do. Because people they should be able to trust, like you, lie to them about the threat of crime to scare them into voting for you. It’s cynical politics at its worst, and you deserve to be pilloried for it.

    I suggest that, given the violent crime stats, it is Tane and Labour who are who are telling porkies. People don’t loose sleep at night over fraud or graffiti.

    I think you, Tane, Robespierre are pretty clearly running a hollow argument here.

  44. Santa Claws 44

    Here’s some more figures for you to obfuscate Sam

    1999: 12
    2006: 27
    Thats a 95% increase when population adjusted.

    Kidnapping and Abduction…
    1999: 16
    2006: 49

    I suppose you 95% Homicide
    166% Kidnapping And Abduction
    149% Robbery
    52% Grievous Assaults
    8% Serious Assaults
    -22% Minor Assaults
    51% Intimidation And Threats
    46% Group Assemblies

    Lets hear you argue that Kiwi’s shouldn’t fear these crimes?
    Thats a 166% increase when population adjusted.

    Here’s the table of changes from 1999 to 2007:

    95% Homicide
    166% Kidnapping And Abduction
    149% Robbery
    52% Grievous Assaults
    8% Serious Assaults
    -22% Minor Assaults
    51% Intimidation And Threats
    46% Group Assemblies

  45. Robinsod 45

    Hay Santa as you don’t site your stats I can’t be sure they’re for real but – Homicide covers manslaughter (it literally means “man-killing”) “culpable homicide” is murder. I’d suggest if we saw a judiciary getting tough on crime then the number of homicides would increase as more “non-culpable” killings (such as drunk driving killers, bar brawl killers and folk who killed their kids through negligence) were held to account properly.

    At a guess I’d say kidnapping and abduction increases are also a result of a heavier approach to crime as the majority of these crimes relate to domestic situations which prior to a firmer stance on crime would have been reported/charges under domestic abuse.

    It’s a bit like when they expanded the definition of A-class drugs and surprise! More charge/convictions for A-class drugs.

    Mmmmmm a-class drugs…

    Oh yeah, and before I forget – Santa, fuck off.

  46. Robinsod 46

    Oh and I meant “cite”

  47. Benodic 47

    God you’re a joke Santa. You should know that you can’t make meaningful statistics out of such low numbers. From 12 to 27!!! That’s like more than 100% !!!!

    You’d be laughed out of Stats 101.

    (Captcha: University fun)

  48. Santa Claws 48

    Bend-over – go tell the families of the 27 victims that they are not meaningful. Who’s the joke?

    “Children being beaten to death by their parents. Paroled offenders murdering innocent citizens. Gang shootings. P-induced frenzied attacks on innocent citizens. Youth gangs intimidating communities. These things strike worry into the hearts of all New Zealanders.”

    Tell me which of these things aren’t happening more often under Labour – that was the point of Tane’s post anyway.

  49. Robinsod (moderator) 49

    DPF Claws – when you use the pun “bend over” are you being homophobic? ‘Cos bro – that ain’t got no truck here. Fuck off.

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