Thursday, October 2, 2014
Crime Reporting Hides Reality
The National Government has been clever at fudging data and hiding unwanted statistics. It has refused to measure the extent of child poverty, stopped independent environmental reporting and while there has been some worrying crime statistics, we only hear of an overall drop in crime.
National Standards in Education introduced high stakes assessment into New Zealand schools and this means that rather than assessing children to help their learning, the Standards are being used to compare schools and teachers. Such regimes can often lead to fudging and manipulated reporting to lift results and protect the reputation of the school (the real levels of child achievement become hidden). National has also created a bullying public sector culture where arbitrary targets are set and, often with reduced resourcing, progress is expected.
It appears very possible that our police find themselves under similar pressure as elsewhere in the public sector. There is evidence that many minor crimes go unrecorded and are instead placed in the lesser category of incidents to improve overall statistics. In Counties Manukau recorded crime is dropping but the number of 'incidents' have increased by 92% since 2008-09.
Serious offending involving sexual and domestic violence cannot be swept under a carpet so easily and the level of offending in both is increasing. In 2013 the police conducted 95,080 family violence investigations (an average of 270 a day). In eight years to 2013 the number of sexual offenses against adults has increased by 50% from 1,187 to 1,848. Sexual offenses against children increased by about 60% over the same time, from 1,187 to 2,071 (also 90% of sexual violence offenses go unreported). There has been some concern that around 50% of investigations into domestic violence do not result in a prosecution.
While the Government may make the claim that crime is dropping and New Zealanders are safer, the evidence says the opposite. New Zealand is still ranked near the bottom of the OECD for the welfare and safety of our children and domestic violence is at crisis levels.
New Zealand also incarcerates more people than most OECD countries, we have the 7th highest prison population rate in the OECD at 1.5 prisoners for every 1,000 people (four times greater than Iceland). While prison numbers have plateaued recently our prison population has still grown by around 40% over the past 10 years.
While the number of prison sentences have been dropping each year since 2006, sentences have been longer so the total population has remained static. The number of those in prison for offenses against property have steadily dropped since 1983 but the proportion of those locked up for violence against people has more than doubled. The statistics in the Department of Corrections report make interesting reading.
While we are being told that the overall crime rate in New Zealand is on a downward trend, we are actually living in an increasingly violent society where too many of our children and families are not safe. The Government is also cutting funding from the very organisations that provide support and protection for the victims of family violence and sexual offending.
(The woman pictured is Preveet Chahal who was beaten earlier this year by a stranger and no one came to her aid)