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Nats fail on crime

Written By: - Date published: 2:07 am, April 4th, 2010 - 45 comments
Categories: crime, national, unemployment - Tags: , ,

Regular readers of The Standard will know that a primary driver of crime is joblessness.

It’s no surprise, therefore, to see that crime went up in the last year. Fewer jobs to go around = more crime. Crime is a symptom of socio-economic distress. It is not, primarily, ‘bad’ people behaving badly because they are inherently bad.

How I with someone would tell the government that. They are stuck in this dark ages delusion where people who do bad things are bad people and the way to stop them is to give them a beating and scare them into toeing the line.

John Key’s reaction to a higher homicide rate and a 3.5% jump in crime was ‘well, there will always be some bad people out there’. Perhaps,but that doesn’t explain an increase under his watch, especially when his government was elected on a promise of bringing crime down.

National pledged to reduce crime but they are failing to do so. Judith Collins says that we can’t know if their policies were effective because some only started in September. Not true. We can see their ineffectiveness already.

National is failing to keep yet another promise because they fundamentally misunderstand crime. At the insistence of Pita Sharples, the government held a conference on the causes of crime last year.It identified poverty and associated deprivation as the leading causes. Employment in decent work is the solution. But it’s like it went in one of National’s ears and out the other. They persist with bone-headed ‘tough on crime’ policies that fail to do a thing, and more Kiwis become victims of crime.

Welcome to the brighter future.

45 comments on “Nats fail on crime”

  1. Nate 1

    What happened to the RSS feed?
    I want to be able to view the full posts in my RSS reader again

    [Great to hear from a fan of course, but please be patient. Lynn has been working like a maniac on the site for days, but he can’t do everything at once. No doubt the RSS will be up again when he can get on to it. Cheers –r0b]

  2. rainman 2

    Good post, and good point.

    – What happened in 95/96? The correlation seems a bit out then.
    – It’s odd: the top chart covers the time I have been in NZ, and it has not subjectively felt like crime is decreasing (not disputing your numbers, rather my perception).

    One further thought: sure, crime is a function of socio-economic stress, but how much of this is the purely economic component (as opposed to self-esteem and community engagement etc)? Isn’t this something the welfare state is intended to mitigate? I know benefits are not generous, but theoretically at least food and shelter are provided. Does anyone know of any real research in this area?

  3. Marty G 3

    “Isn’t this something the welfare state is intended to mitigate?”

    yes, and it does mitigate, not eliminate.

    I’m not sure what happened in 95/96 but I know that the sudden u-turn in 04/05 was artificial. A change in police reporting practices increased the number of offences by something like 8% – the actual crime level probably continued dropping or stayed the same.

    The correlation, btw, is 0.8, which is really strong. I also looked at the relationship if I lagged joblessness – ie compared the jobless rate to the crime rate six months later – and that was an even stronger link – 0.83. That kind of makes sense, it suggests that an increase in joblessness doesn’t lead to an immediate increase in crime, but the higher crime comes after more people are experiencing a longer period of joblessness.

  4. Redlogix 4

    I’m not going to detract from your core argument at all Marty … more than anyone I respect the story the numbers tell. But for most people there remains a dissonnance, between what is being told here and what they feel is true. It still seems to me that there are other factors in play here:

    1. Over-hyped tabloid media reporting that indulges our fascination for the morbid reinforces sense of apprehension in people.

    2. A younger generation that carries knives routinely (utterly unthinkable when I was a kid), routinely binge-drinks, is doped to eyeballs in weed so strong it’s really hash, drugs we never heard of… and behave towards each other and older folk with an appalling lack of respect. Again this creates apprehension.

    3. The importation of a sick ‘gang-land’ rapper culture from LA. It’s vile and degraded, yet a huge slice of our youth wallow in it … deafening themselves and others with it’s brain-homogenising jungle-beat everywhere you go.

    4. The fact that while overall crime statistics have declined for much of the period you have picked… that the category of ‘deadly assualt’ has gotten worse… much worse. The recent NZI report does highlight this, NZ being one of the very worst countries in the OECD by this specific measure. We always had a dreadful legacy of violence in our culture, (I’m old enough to remember which parts of Auckland to avoid back in the 60’s and 70’s)… but it seems to have borne an especially evil flowering in this generation.

    In my father’s time you didn’t kick a man when he was down. If you did you were ostracised as a scum-bag coward…….fights had an accepted stopping point. Nowadays the whole point of a fight is to get them down and kick them senseless or worse. There are no limits to this kind of unrestrained violence… it’s kill or be killed.

    While I do accept your underlying argument Marty, there is I’m afraid more to it than this. Simply pouring money alone into deprivation and dysfunction has not …to most people’s minds… been a conspicous success. The real solution to crime is a combination of both incentives and deterrence. Personally I’m of the opinion that given the deteriorating nature of crime, the degrading clutural matrix in which it is flourishing that along with the kind of support for jobs and stable family formation that you have in mind….that tougher policing and penalties is a legitimate part of the solution.

    As long as both sides of this discussion continue to shout at each other we will get nowhere.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 4.1

      Not everything or everyone is perfect, but NZ is still the best palce in the world to live. We don’t have ethnic riots like in Cronulla and most kiwis are still the most tolerant and friendliest people I have met.

      Sure, there is an element of of violence and under class but what country doesn’t have this.

      Personally arguing over crime stats is an exercise in futulity since definitions drive the results. Shouldn’t we be discussing how to incorporate the disenfranchised you mention back into mainstream society.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        “Shouldn’t we be discussing how to incorporate the disenfranchised you mention back into mainstream society.”

        In a word? No.

        Mainstream society as you term it produces all the ills you sign post. People are marginalised, criminalised and whatever else ‘ised’ as a result of the way we order our affairs. Why pretend these things popped up unbidden from a vacuum and that the people affected would be fine if only they would integrate or if they were offered ways to assist integration?

        That’s blaming the victim.

        Long way of saying that society and the dynamics that act on it need to be overhauled rather than peoples’ attitude.

    • Quoth the Raven 4.2

      2. A younger generation that carries knives routinely (utterly unthinkable when I was a kid), routinely binge-drinks, is doped to eyeballs in weed so strong it’s really hash, drugs we never heard of and behave towards each other and older folk with an appalling lack of respect. Again this creates apprehension.

      Ephebiphobic much?

  5. Bill 5

    Women’s Refuge were that police stats show reporting of domestic violence up 18%.

    Nothing to do with the recession of course. It’s the police being ‘jolly happy friendly much more approachable chappies’ that leads to people skipping along to the local cop shop to report violence

    Click to access Domestic%20Violence%20Police%20Statistics.pdf

  6. Peter Johns 6

    I bet most of the crimnals are Labour voters.

    • Bill 6.1

      I bet your brain resides just slightly due north of your buttocks.

    • RedLogix 6.2

      The biggest criminals are the bankers, financiers and corporates. 48 finance companies collapsed in the last 2 years owing almost $3b to almost quarter of a million kiwis. Now that’s real crime for you.

      Or banks that got pinged for billions in taxes they tried to dodge.

      Or farmers who own and run multi-million dollar operations, but hide their income in trusts and companies so that they qualify for Community Services cards and WFF.

      Or the companies that spent decades dumping toxic wastes into places like Waiwhetu Stream in the Hutt Valley… and now its’ costing millions to clean up they’re long gone.

      Or companies like Sealords who instead of using their fishing quotas to build jobs and stability among their own people… rent the quotas out to overseas companies whose labour and environmental practises are appallingly bad.

      Or company directors like Tony Gibbs whose stolen millions in undeserved fees from shareholders, yet by manipulating the rules and hiding behind big institutional investors evades accountability.

      Or the alcohol companies that make big profits from selling booze, but dodge the $12-20 billion cost their product causes in harm to this country every year.

      Nah … Labour’s crims are small time as a rule.

      • Peter Johns 6.2.1

        a lot of Labour voters there too. Afetr all Labour gave the Finance companies the environment they traded in for 9 years. Lets face a fact here, blacks cause most violent crime per head of population. South Auckland anyone? Labour stronghold.

        • bill brown

          Blacks ???

          Go back to where you came from

        • willaspish

          peter johns, does being a racist come naturally or do you have to work at it?

          I don’t normally report captchas but I thought this was quite apt – “broken”. Good to see the Standard back, sounds like you had a mare. Being reliant on the MSM is not a nice world to live in.

          • Peter Johns

            Look at the names of people who are on the rap sheets in courts. They mainly have a PI/Maori name, much more than thier share of the population anyway.
            How often do we hear ‘police are looking for a male maori….’
            Not racist, reporting what is factual. I live in a PC free zone.

            • Bill

              So you agree that our society is racist then?

              If not, what else explains PI and Maori being over represented in per head of population terms?

              • Peter Johns

                Because they are hitting people over the head with a baseball bat. That is not a sign of a racist country. Maybe it was normal behaviour in the Islands and in NZ pre European?
                As usual the left turn this into a question of race. Maybe the violent minorities should tackle this themselves since we have failed.

              • Pascal's bookie

                As usual the left turn this into a question of race.

                I’m pretty sure that was you actually.

              • Bill

                @ Peter John

                You’re racist. This exchange is ended.

            • willaspish

              Perhaps all those “blacks” are in court because of all those “white” police officers? Don’t you get it yet?

              Captcha = different, which unlike you pj is dull and predictable, and that’s a fact – nothing PC about it.

  7. (NOT) bill brown 7

    I love it up the botbot !

    [lprent: Bugger off gitmo. You should avoid using broomshicks. But I guess that is the only thing that can tolerate you. ]

  8. (NOT) Bill 8

    My crapper is in tatters !

    [lprent: gitmo: deliberate identity theft is a permanent ban – but you already have that. I guess we have another of your IP addresses. ]

    • Bill 8.1

      How come the logo thing by the name is the same in both these instances when the comments come from two different people?

      [lprent: Works off the e-mail address. I guess this weasel knows that. ]

  9. (NOT) willaspish 9

    I also vigorously take it up the back passage.

    [lprent: Bugger off gitmo. You know that playing with yourself like that can only lead to piles. Added this IP range to your collection. ]

  10. prism 10

    captcha – primitive – how suitable for these non-cerebral comments above.

    pollywog, you might be interested in what is going on here. Where are you?

    MartyG Could you not use yellow on graphs – hard to see it much less read it.
    (My observation – If using on black might stand out better, but both yellow and white on dark background need to be in bold or bigger fonts as the background seems to lessen the clarity of the symbol.)

  11. illuminatedtiger 11

    Nats == Fail

    Always have, always will.

  12. burt 12

    Regular readers of The Standard will know that a primary driver of crime is joblessness.

    So the effects of the recession Labour policies created late 2007 are now fully showing their ugly face.

    But hey, I’m glad the primary driver of crime is joblessnes, we can work to fix that but hot summers and full moons we have no control over.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      burt, the recession was the result of the policies that the 4th Labour government introduced in the 1980s and the 4th National government continued. The 5th Labour government undid some of those policies (but not enough) over their 9 years in office. You also should have noticed that the GFC started in the US where deregulation of the financial sector was even more advanced.

      To spell it out for you: The recession is a result of deregulation – the same policies that NACT+MP are still following because they’re stupid.

  13. Rex Widerstrom 13

    While I wouldn’t argue the correlation between violenet crime and joblessness, nor the theory that that demonstrates causation, I would take issue with the implied justitification inherent in statements like:

    Crime is a symptom of socio-economic distress. It is not, primarily, ‘bad’ people behaving badly because they are inherently bad.

    Someone who loses their job and shoplifts food because they don’t have enough for their family: not at all “bad”, in my view.

    Someone who loses their job and breaks into someone else’s home to steal their belongings: motives entirely understandable, but their lack of concern for the effect of their actions on their victims starts to diminish my sympathy.

    Someone who loses their job, so comes home and beats their partner and/or children or murders someone: sorry, but they’re bad.

    I’ve been – and I know dozens of other people who have been – jobless. There’s a huge temptation to steal (I used to pinch bread and milk in the days it was delivered, but even tried to be as polite as I could and never hit the same letterbox twice) and perhaps a temptation to rob.

    And yes, there’s a vast array of negative emotions – anger, worthlessness, frustration, despair. But you choose whether to channel those emotions into violence and if you do, you’re bad.

  14. prism 14

    Isn’t it too simplistic to state that crime and joblessness go together or that its a symptom of socio-economic distress? More that joblessness increases crime statistics. Probably the reason for a rise could be shown to be a mixture of money shortage, too much time to kill, and not much hope for improvement.

    Crime isn’t just for poor people, it’s open to all and with a variety of options. From Enron, financial manipulators, credit companies, right down to shopthieves stealing chocolate bars. Helpful workers in not-for-profit charities are drawn to embezzling. I heard recently of a new twist – stealing pottles of fresh oysters or slipping some down the throat in the shop. That shop now provides tickets which you take to the counter, first pay and then the oysters are yours. Joblessness is not a prerequisite for criminal innovation.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      Joblessness is not a prerequisite for criminal innovation.

      No it’s not and Marty didn’t say it was. What he said, and has significant correlation, is that not having a job pushes more people to crime. The people you mentioned from Enron, credit companies etc are going to be criminals no matter what. The people who are pushed into crime due to not having enough to get by on will stop once they have enough.

      • prism 14.1.1

        I think dtb that I covered that in my first paragraph. But I agree that the joblessness and increase in crime go together. Of course that has been shown in studies many times but politicians and their business partners don’t bother with inconvenient people or stats and facts.

  15. Fisiani 15

    If someone claimed that being a beneficiary was a driver of crime then there would be an outcry of benificiary bashing here. Unemployed are beneficiaries, stop bashing beneficieries.

    • Bright Red 15.1

      not all unemployed are beneficiaries and no-one is denying that being in poverty is a driver of crime.

      kicking people off benefits won’t help that, just makes it worse.

  16. PK 16

    ***If not, what else explains PI and Maori being over represented in per head of population terms?***

    Probably cultural and biological factors which mediate responses to environmental stressors. For instance, men are overrepresented in comparison to women, and this is due to cultural and biological factors such as testosterone or MAO-A variants. These differ in frequency amongst populations to so could be a factor in different rates.

    An interesting contrast is crime in Jewish or Asian households in the US over the past century. Both have experienced poverty and discrimination but have always been underrepresented in crime. In San Francisco in the 1960’s Chinatown had the highest unemployment rates, and lowest incomes but lowest crime!

    • Bright Red 16.1

      in 1960s SF chinese wouldn’t have gone to the police for help with criminal matter and the police wouldn’t have helped them.

      you’ve got to look behind the bland stats, pk, to see if there are variables that explain the pattern you think you are seeing.

  17. PK 17

    **in 1960s SF chinese wouldn’t have gone to the police for help with criminal matter and the police wouldn’t have helped them**

    Right, but non-chinese victims of crime would still go to the police. And these rates are consistent with other western countries where Chinese migrants have lower rates than europeans. In people under the age of 40, the different rates in the US appear consistent with testosterone. Although biological factors are mediated by environmental ones, such as parenting, deprivation, poverty etc.


  18. mcflock 18


    You’re joking, right? No red flags pop up for you when considering using that as a source? Not even a little one?

    In San Francisco in the 1960’s Chinatown had the highest unemployment rates, and lowest incomes but lowest crime!

    I think I’d like a decent source for that one. Preferably one that looks at reporting disparities between the majority social groups and those that were ostracised at or close to the time. Something peer-reviewed, or at least isn’t trying to sell me a $20 “Rodex” or pheromone spray.

  19. PK 19

    ***In San Francisco in the 1960’s Chinatown had the highest unemployment rates, and lowest incomes but lowest crime!

    I think I’d like a decent source for that one.***

    See page 32 Walsh, Anthony (2004). Race and Crime: A Biosocial Perspective. Hauppauge, NY:
    Nova Science Publications. Second Edition, 2010.

    In relation to testosterone see pages 122 to 126.

    • mcflock 19.1

      now *that’s* something to get my teeth into. What was with the previous link?

  20. mcflock 20

    damn – my free online sample expired before I found the SF reference, and the book ain’t in my uni library.

    Did find the testoserone pages, though – the gist of which I took as “Studies disagree whether there is an ethnic difference in blood levels of seratonin or testoserone, but it might be there. Whether, and to what degree, it causes or is caused by stressors, high crime and “honor” [i.e. young-buck status fever] subcultures, if the difference indeed exists, is yet to be determined. All in all, interesting but at the moment we know less than nothing”.

    Assuming you have access to a full copy, how does Walsh establish the actual crime rate in the SF Chinese community in the 1960s?

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