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The crime spike

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, October 12th, 2016 - 24 comments
Categories: Judith Collins, national, national/act government, Politics, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: ,


This is a blog post I started to write a couple of weeks ago but it was temporarily lost in the heat and chaos of the local government campaign …

Who would have thought that a surge in homelessness would result in a spike in crime, that a dramatic increase in the number of people with no or compromised housing situations would cause an increase in burglaries, robberies and assaults.

From the Herald:

A surge in people falling victim to burglaries, robbery and assaults are behind an increase in reported crime in New Zealand over the past year.

The official crime statistics for the year ending August were released today, and showed 12,529 more victims than the year before.

The increase equates to a 4.8 per cent rise in crime.

It’s more bad news for Police Minister Judith Collins after last month’s crime statistics showed a 2.3 per cent increase in crime in the year to July.

I have been following crime statistics for a while.  The Government lauded it up when the figures were coming down, even though the actual reasons appeared to be a combination of a change in prosecutorial practice and some pretty dodgy action by the police the full details of which has been hidden.  And there has been some weird things happening, like the incidence of domestic violence increasing but the number of prosecutions decreasing. And the Government’s handling and reporting on various statistics has been less than exemplary.

But after a while you run out of changes you can make and then after a new baseline has been established changes in offending rates become relevant again.

So this news is going to hurt.  No doubt the Wellington boffins are working away creating a list of diversionary tough on crime announcements.  John Key’s open letter to ethnic communities clearly shows the nervousness they are feeling.

I suspect they are thinking of some big bang tough on crime policy to announce.  One of them could be an announcement of retrospective legislation to stop prisoners who have been detained for longer than the law permitted from being compensated.  Already Judith Collins has not ruled this out even though it would be a constitutional abomination.  But what better way to divert attention from an area where National is vulnerable.

24 comments on “The crime spike ”

  1. UncookedSelachimorpha 1

    Not to mention the enlightened practice of benefit sanctions – where someone without enough to live on already….gets a punitive benefit cut as a result of failing some real or imaginary ‘obligation’. I personally know someone recently docked $100 / week for failing a drug test – not actually failing, WINZ set an appointment and failed to notify him, then failed him on a no-show. Even if someone does show up and fail – is it smart to cut the benefit of someone already in desperate poverty with a drug addiction?

    What did the morons who came up with that expect to happen? The person will conjure food and shelter from thin air?

  2. Bill 2

    Reported crime and actual crime…two different things that don’t necessarily track one another.

    Anyway, this thing about homelessness leading to burglaries and robberies….not buying it. Or is the suggestion being made that those with less secure belongings tend to have them nicked? I mean, I’d buy that one. But not the subtle and inadvertent ‘poor bashing’ that would have us believe poor people are dodgy as…

    • mickysavage 2.1

      My 32 years practising in criminal law has led me to conclude that the desperation of poverty and homelessness can result in some people getting into trouble.

      • Bill 2.1.1

        Yup. But poverty and homelessness and ‘getting into trouble’ (already in trouble if homeless or poor) still doesn’t equate to thieving and robbing.

        Chicken and egg. Did people with ‘sticky fingers’ (maybe among a number of other ‘attributes’) wind up unable to get a job or house, or do people who wind up homeless and jobless develop ‘sticky fingers’?

        See what I’m saying?

        • Muttonbird

          See what I’m saying?


          • Bill

            There’s a line in the post that claims homelessness and poverty produces thieves and burglars – (Who would have thought that a surge in homelessness would result in a spike in crime, that a dramatic increase in the number of people with no or compromised housing situations would cause an increase in burglaries, robberies…)

            So in other words, homeless people and poor people are absolutely more likely to be thieves and burglars than any other cohort of society because their homelessness and poverty makes them into thieves and burglars.

            I think that’s wrong headed and discriminatory.

            • Muttonbird

              I took the comment to mean a surge in yet another indicator of social stress and community disruption has resulted in an increase in crime.

              A rise in crime is what you get what when communities become volatile and pressured and this is clearly what is happening with wages and hours suppressed, a crackdown on beneficiaries, rent rises, infrastructure under immense strain, record immigration, speculatory behaviour in housing, poor housing standards.

              It’s what happens when you have a small, small-minded, do nothing government.

              It got nothing to do with disadvantaged people being any more of less criminally inclined that rich people.

            • Siobhan

              I think it’s fair to say that if you have no money to live on you may be more inclined to steal, even just a bit of food, or clothing.

              That doesn’t mean poor people are more criminally inclined.
              For starters it’s called survival, even if they are intending to sell the items for cash.

              I would suspect that certain amount of crime/theft is undertaken to support addictions. Again, both the untreated addiction, and the need to steal to ‘feed’ the addiction, would be a bigger factor for poorer people.

              Then you have people who have ‘disappeared’ from the unemployment stats, but don’t have a job. I look forward to a lawyer presenting to the courts a defence that it is actually criminal entrapment to have people denied the full payment of the dole in a purely capitalist society.

              When it comes to people who are born ‘criminally minded’ I think the spread is pretty even throughout society. It’s just white collar criminals tend to operate within laws designed to allow them to get away with it.


              • Bill

                Been homeless and destitute.

                But availing myself of food (as I did on a regular basis) was and is fundamentally different to ‘burglary and robbery’ – at least as far those terms are commonly understood.

                Any addict stealing to feed a habit is going to be stealing whether homeless or not. Actually, given the outgoings involved in having a house (rent, power etc) I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the case that homeless addicts steal less.

                Half reminded of the recent story…an Italian?…who successfully defended a charge of theft on the grounds that being penniless he retained a fundamental right to eat. From memory, he’d lifted some food.

                It’s an old, old trope to suggest that poor = feckless and criminal. And it fucks me off no end. By and large, the most generous and honest people I’ve encountered in life have been poor.

              • Jono

                Criminal entrapment it truly is. As it has been created by the government by its policies. I hope this happens and a test case is created in the courts. It will be interesting.

    • mpledger 2.2

      When you have no where to live, no money to live on then the consequences of crime don’t look that bad … from the outside.

      • stigie 2.2.1

        So these homeless people receive no money from the Government…Why ?

        • TopHat

          Some have no formal identification and thus no bank accounts to receive benefit to.
          Some of these homeless people have jobs and thus no govt. support is forthcoming.
          There are many situations that preclude govt. assistance, if your’s isn’t obvious, WINZ are only happen to find one that you fit into.

  3. Adrian Thornton 3

    Of course having prisoners being subjected to relentless ultra violence during their time in custody, with little or no time spent on any type of rehabilitation, won’t be helping matters, not really rocket science, although you could be forgiven for thinking that it is, judging by the lack of any meaningful progress on prisoner rehabilitation in this country from any political party.

  4. TopHat 4

    As tobacco has become the opiate of the masses and as the price of this insidious drug is increased beyond reason. As access to benefits and other social security falls/fails .
    When govt. backs already challenged social groups into a corner, are you surprised they turn to crime?
    I am not one bit surprised to see a spike in robberies of Dairies and other tobacco dealers.
    The stress placed on your average, already financially stressed family invariably accounts to higher domestic violence, ie, dammit I ran out of smokes and it’s the wifes fault for buying bread…
    Oh to be a single man again, I could just go and stick up the local dairy for a few cartons…
    etc etc etc

  5. Infused 5

    So no link to homelessness then. Ok, thanks.

  6. Muttonbird 6

    Is it my imagination or is there an incident like this every other day under this National government. Poor social policy settings and massive underfunding of health services leads to this…


    • miravox 6.1

      I don’t think it’s your imagination. I can’t help thinking gun violence (public and police) is way up compared with a few years ago. At some stage I tried to find some stats to compare, but didn’t find anything helpful.

      I wonder if people are just becoming accustomed to it – from a distance there doesn’t seem to be much of an outcry, except for the most egregious or horrific events. It’s all a bit depressing another indication of fractures in the national psyche, if it is increasing.

  7. mauī 7

    And bingo, here comes the cavalry to smooth things over with conservative new zealand. When do they realise they’re being gamed though.

  8. Whispering Kate 8


    [A couple of your comments got held in mod because ‘whisperingkate’ was in the name box, not your usual Whispering Kate. TRP]

  9. Keith 9

    Poor old National, but more importantly poor New Zealand.

    The Nats were going to get all tough and butch on crime, Crusher Collins ain’t taking no shit, ra ra. Then they savagely cut the police budget because we’ve got to pay for those tax cuts somehow, but managed, somehow, some way, to do the equivilant of turning water into wine by reducing reported crime. Gee how could they cut funding for police and yet cut crime. Hmmm..

    Anyway that miracle is fast fading. Auckland’s population has swelled and yet NO extra police. Some areas are woefully under staffed and God help the provinces.

    And yet we all know they’ve painted themselves into a corner. And no, tinkering around the edges and juking the stats is not going to make this horror story go away but that’s all National know. This will get worse.

  10. Muttonbird 10

    One wonders what it is her government does if not actually governing. Y’know, looking at society and finding ways to make it better…nah, far easier to blame it on the parents.


    • ScottGN 10.1

      Not to mention her government has cut funding for the very programmes that are designed to help these sorts of parents. She’s a stupid, stupid woman.

  11. Gabby 11

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been a surge in arsons yet.

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