Causing the predictable annual flutter in the news, recent figures show that (with some caveats) we have falling crime rates in NZ. (Or falling rates of reported crime at least.) There was the usual round of editorials, posturing from the current Police Minister, silly chatter on blogs and so on – most of it missing two salient points, first that this is the continuation of a long slow trend, and second that it is a (“Western”) world-wide phenomenon.
Consider these recent international news items:
From the UK: Fall in UK crime rate baffles experts
From America: What’s Behind America’s Falling Crime Rate
From Canada: Crime rate falls to lowest level since 1973
From Australia: New figures reveal falling crime rates
There are various theories out there (including reduced exposure to lead in paint and petrol). Here’s the one that makes most sense to me:
Reduced crime thanks to ‘ageing population’
A criminologist says the falling crime rate is not unique to New Zealand and is the result of changing demographics. …
But a Victoria University criminology professor says the decrease is actually because of the country’s ageing population.
“That cohort of 15 to 20-year-old men are the most criminogenic group of any society and if you have far fewer of them in your population then that’s going to have an impact on crime rates,” Professor John Pratt says. …
Professor Pratt says over the last 20 years the western world has seen a similar trend in falling crime rates …
Falling crime is good news – but the reasons are probably not the ones that occupy most of the politicians and the commentary.