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Why is reported violent crime up?

Written By: - Date published: 5:02 pm, June 13th, 2008 - 40 comments
Categories: crime - Tags:

As you know, crime is down in New Zealand, which is not surprising – crime is a symptom of social deprivation and we’ve had eight years of high employment and rising incomes easing that deprivation. But reported violent crime is up. Why?

One reason is 35% of the increase is in the “threats and intimidation” category of violent crime (where no actual violence occurs) and the Police say this is due to the rise of cellphones, which allow minor incidents that would once have not been reported to be quickly called in. The other reason is that domestic violence is becoming less acceptable in our communities and more highly reported.

I can hear the righties working themselves up already. So here’s the evidence:

Over the last ten years, violent crime outside the home has fallen while reported domestic violence has increased.

source

But that could mean there actually is more domestic violence, not just more reporting, right? Well, consider domestic homicides. That’s domestic violence that has ended in someone being killed. The thing about homicides is they are (nearly) always reported so the reporting rate is constant near 100%, and we can see that the number of domestic violence incidents ending in homicide is falling even as the reported incidents of domestic violence increases.

source
This indicates that the actual level domestic violence is falling (or it is, inexplicably, becoming less deadly) and the increase in the reported violent crime stats is due to more reporting.

That’s good news on two fronts. There is less actual crime and more of the crime that does happen is being reported. And that is exactly what we would expect to happen when we have had a strong period of reduction in social deprivation and an increased emphasis on tackling domestic violence from the Government and community organisations.

40 comments on “Why is reported violent crime up? ”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Couldn’t the converse also be true non-violent crime is not really down people just don’t bother reporting it as it has become more accepted in our communities and less highly reported ? (I hope that’s not the case but who knows ?)

    I also suggest utilising the percentage of domestic violence ending in homicides as an indicator of falling domestic violence as pretty cak stats as (only guessing here) the abolute numbers of domestic homicides is small compared to the absolute numbers of reported domestic violence.

    I think it is reasonable to assume that there is a lower tolerance for domestic violence as you say however due to certain social marketing campaigns.

  2. andy 2

    Couldn’t the converse also be true non-violent crime is not really down people just don’t bother reporting it as it has become more accepted in our communities and less highly reported ?

    Very much so, ask anyone who has a regularly tagged wall. There is no point in reporting. The best prevention is a tin of paint and persistence…

    Disclaimer:

    Twas one part of a previous job to remove tagging daily on one wall, and yes it was daily, until we won at a tremendous cost.

  3. “I think it is reasonable to assume that there is a lower tolerance for domestic violence as you say however due to certain social marketing campaigns.”

    Right, so it’s not surprising, that the reporting rates are climbing, and that would cuase a rise in the number of reported violent crimes.

    There is a clear downward trend in homicides, especially domestic homicides, that stands despite the small absolute numbers.

    There’s no evidence that reporting rates for other crimes are falling. And every reason to think that it’s a geninue fall in crime, because we know that theft (the largest single block of crime) is an economic disease and economic condition have been good.

  4. higherstandard 4

    Just wondering SP because there seems to be some rather odd attitudes to crime in NZ.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4582250a11.html

  5. IrishBill 5

    Nice post Steve. Now watch them whine about your stats.

  6. Anita 6

    It’s possible that the domestic violence statistics would also be explained by an increase in domestic violence by women. That explanation would rest on violence by women being less likely to kill because one of:

    1) Women are less likely to have the physical strength to beat someone to death, so a lower proportion of domestic violence incidents would lead to deaths.

    2) Women’s violent acts may be different in nature (e.g. less likely to use a weapon),

    3) or the kind of target (its harder to kill an adult than a baby),

    4) or the other factors (e.g. more/less likely to be violent when drunk)

    I’m not sure this is the right explanation, and it’s possible that anecdotal evidence about increased violence by women is also only a reporting change.

  7. dave 7

    http://wdmzpub01.stats.govt.nz/wds/TableViewer/tableView.aspx

    IF you look at the graphs again you’ll find that Homicide is down slightly for reasons that have nothing do do with reporting.,kidnapping and robbery are also down, but the serious violence is up up up. Grevious assaults are up, serious assaults are up, intimidation is up but thats not so serious and group assemblies are up. So two of the worst categories – Grevious and serious assaults – are up and the increase in serious assaults – which all get reported – was the increase was the biggest since 2002 at least.

    So reported violent crime is going down, but the severity of that crime is going up up up. And its not due to increased reporting either.

  8. Crime is on the increase, because people are doing what Labour Ministers do. How many appeared in court as a result of anti social criminal behaviour in the last couple of years. What role models!!

  9. expat 9

    “As you know” – no we dont.

    “crime is a symptom of social deprivation” – nice over simplified hypothesis.

    “one reason is the 35% increase in..” – crime people have reported?

    If you’re using two graphs please make sure the measured units are both the same (you know the Y axis) i.e. real numbers or % not mixed as it makes comparisons fatuous.

  10. Quoth the Raven 10

    Dad4Justice – Look at this and this. Aren’t national MPs model citizens.

  11. randal 11

    crime is up because of the self regulation philosophy espoused by national in the nineties which is now coming home to roost. ideas have consequences was the right wing mantra and so they do.

  12. randal 12

    I forgot to mention the same philosophy was espoused in England by the thatcher government and they have they highest crime rate in Europe. ideas ‘do’ have consequences.

  13. Great post Steve. May I ask where the data came from? Looked for it broken down to that level recently and couldn’t find it.

  14. How much of the domestic violence figures include parents prosecuted for smacking children?

  15. ak 15

    How much of the domestic violence figures include parents prosecuted for smacking children?

    Good question Nick: National MPs told us that thousands of good kiwi parents would be prosecuted: (then again, that was before every single one of them voted for the legislation….) anyone got the figures?

  16. dave 16

    So reported violent crime is going down, but the severity of that crime is going up up up. And its not due to increased reporting either.

    should be

    So reported violent crime is going up but the severity of that crime is going up up up. And its not due to increased reporting either.

  17. jafapete. used the stats crime figures and stats population numbers.

  18. 2_dead_dogs 18

    What a load of crap.

    You cannot say that the increased use of cellphones is one of the reasons domestic crime has risen.

    Households have landlines.

    And in the case of a household that is so poor that it doesn’t have a landline, but a prepaid cellphone, it is highly unlikely that the abused has access to a/the cellphone.

    give me a break

    [a) I didn’t say it, the Police did in there stats report of 2007, not online. b) that’s one explanation why reported violent crime generally, not domestic violence, has risen. As I clearly state in the post. SP]

  19. expat 19

    desperate times call for ever desperate diversion tactics.

  20. Ari 20

    Increased awareness of domestic crime is certainly a good reason that reported crimes would have risen, however, 2DD- and the §59 debate definitely brought some of that about. I was wondering about the cellphone thing myself though 😉

  21. mike 21

    Brilliant!

    Cell phones and old National policy’s are to blame for increased violent crime.

    Not quite as silly as Kings full moon claims but fictitious none the less.

  22. higherstandard 22

    Mike

    You forgot poverty and capitalism.

    From one of our current MPs

    ” …. only the worst of the worst criminals should be sent to jail.
    The rest were victims of a competitive society focused on private gain at the expense of public good, and they should be supported in the community with taxpayer funds that would otherwise go into keeping them locked up.

    “Such people did not deserve jail, and punishment was not going to change them.They were people living hard, disorganised lives in a competitive society. Inherent in competition are a small number of winners and a larger number of losers. All the evidence tells us it’s from the losers in this competitive model that we fill our prisons,” Mr Fairbrother said.

    “We’ve seen the income gap increase as the market economy takes hold, and, with the increase of disadvantage, the prison population grows.”

    Makes SPs assertions look positively scholarly.

  23. coge 23

    What about the P epidemic that has occured under Labours watch.
    This will account for increased threats & intimidation. The drug itself is a crime, but there are many more crimes associated with its addiction. It runs deep & is not always recognised for what it is.

  24. Felix 24

    intimidation is up but thats not so serious

    Intimidation is very serious, it’s the stock-in-trade of organised crime the world over.

    Sure, no-one is physically injured by the crime of intimidation but it can involve (whether explicit or implied) the very real threat of extreme violence.

    It’s not a matter to be taken lightly.

  25. Quoth the Raven 25

    coge – Are you saying that P wouldn’t have been a problem if National was in power? P has become a problem in many many nations around the world. Whether or not the governments are left wing or right wing hasn’t made a difference. Maybe if we had a more liberal policy to other drugs, like the Netherlands does we might not have such a problem.

  26. coge 26

    I’m just stating a fact, that P addiction has markedly increased in NZ, during Labour administrations. I can’t possibly comment if there is any correlation. Annette King herself has admitted there is a huge problem with P. The attendant crimes etc clogging up the courts, & the proposal to do away with deposition hearings. This will just increase the number of trials, which involve much more time that deposition hearings. To suggest that the increase in threats & intimidation is a result of cell phones is political spin to whitewash the facts.

  27. higherstandard 27

    A more liberal policy with other drugs – thanks but no thanks one trip to the A&E department to view the carnage Friday through Sunday would hopefully put anyone off that idea.

  28. burt 28

    hs

    In my experience the A&E departments would be all but empty on Friday & Saturday night if we banned alcohol.

    Lucky them party pills which have killed less people than peanut butter were banned eh!

    As a point of interest, has anybody considered how quickly Jolly Jim the ban-muppet would want alcohol banned if it were a recent introduction into the recreational chemical mix?

  29. Phil 29

    “crime is a symptom of social deprivation”

    Ah! So all those tax-avoiding “rich pricks” are really just socially deprived and need our sympathy, not our vitriol. Thanks for clearing that up Steve!

    “The other reason is that domestic violence is becoming less acceptable in our communities and more highly reported.”

    Interestingly, this can only account for the spike in reporting in ’07. The clear upward trend in your second graph prior to “it’s not ok” and related campaigns must therefore be increased incidence.

  30. Quoth the Raven 30

    HS – Did you know that there is not a single recorded case of anyone ever dying from too much Cannabis in the history of all mankind. (I’m not talking about accidents or long-term effects). It is just not toxic enough. Now compare that to alcohol. Many people die every year in this country, not just from accidents or chronic diseases associated with alcohol, but from alcohol poisoning. So does the current system seem fair? Though I think we’re getting off topic.

  31. Lew 31

    Steve: “the Police say this is due to the rise of cellphones, which allow minor incidents that would once have not been reported to be quickly called in.”

    I’ve been unable to find a source for this, can you give us a hint? It passes the sniff test for me, but I’d be surprised if the police actually cited it as a reason for more reporting.

    (A source would also shut up people like 2DD who think you’ve made it up 🙂

    L

  32. higherstandard 32

    QTR – burt

    You’ll get no argument from me that alcohol abuse is a disaster in this country.

  33. Lew. The source isn’t online – I saw it in the Police’s physical stats report of 2007, but the online versions are just tables and numbers, no analysis.

    Incidentally, when phones came into houses in the 1950 and 60s, that also led to an increase in reporting.

    Phil. I’m not saying that all criminal acts are by the socially deprived or would disappear if poverty was eliminated but it would be foolish to dismiss the huge role that poverty plays in causing crime.

  34. Draco TB 34

    Households have landlines.

    And are you going to use the only phone in the house to report the guy with the bat while the guy with the bat is standing over the phone? Cell phones allow the victim to get away and hide and then call the police while land lines have a tendency to put the victim back in harms way.

  35. Felix 35

    Burt,

    While I generally agree with your last comment (especially the last paragraph) it’s worth noting that we should examine the effects of drugs in combination – the chemical mix as you put it.

    For example while it seems to be true that BZP doesn’t really do much damage on it’s own, it does allow users to stay up longer and drink more which as we know brings with it a whole raft of physical, mental, and social issues.

    There’s no question in my mind which of the two is the most harmful substance, but that doesn’t tell the whole story unless they’re only used in isolation.

  36. roger nome 36

    An independent consultancy firm that looked at the violent crime statistics, have put the rise since 1998 down to increased vigilance on the part of the police, in the area of domestic violence.

    Of course try telling that to all the righties here who see truth as being secondary to ideology.

    The overall increase in recorded violent crime is however supported by ACC claim statistics. Much of the increase in violence, appears to be family violence related, and may be a consequence of increased proactive police activity to combat domestic violence.

    http://www.police.govt.nz/resources/2006/axist/understanding-crime-statistics-movement.pdf

  37. Phil 37

    Your quote doesn’t back up your claim, Roger.

    “… and may be a consequence of increased proactive police activity…”

    Note the ‘may’. This gives you a good clue that the data does not offer proof, only that it might be a factor. Equally, it might not be, either.

  38. roger nome 38

    Phil – The burden of proof lies with the person asserting the positive. In this case it’s up to the right to prove that the incidence of violent crime has increased during Labour’s tenure. So far the kiwiblog right and the MSM have failed to prove their case.

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