A large percentage of New Zealanders have not experienced crime in the last 12 months, and crime is confined to a small proportion of the population. This is one of the 'topline' results from the Ministry of Justice’s New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey (NZCVS), a major new crime survey carried out this year.
'Our major finding is that 71 percent of New Zealanders had not experienced crime last year,' says James Swindells, Manager of Research and Evaluation at the Ministry of Justice. 'And crime was confined to 29 percent of the population.'
'Eighty percent of households did not experience any crime,' he says, 'and we found that people over 65 years of age are less likely to be affected by crime at 18 percent.'
'We interviewed 8,030 people aged 15 years and over between March and October this year about any incidents of crime they had experienced in the last 12 months,' says Mr Swindells.
'Māori were more likely to be victims of crime with 37% of those surveyed saying they had been affected in the last year. Forty percent of young people aged between 20 and 29 had been a victim of crime,' he says.
Mr Swindells says the research indicated 1.78 million criminal offences occurred in the last 12 months, with 68 percent of offences against people and 32 percent against property.
He adds that burglary (17 offences per 100 households) is the most common crime followed by harassment and threatening behaviour (8 offences per 100 adults), and fraud (7 offences per 100 adults).
The New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey shows that only 23 percent of people who were a victim of a crime reported it to Police.
People living in the three major centres had about the same chance to be victims of crime as an average New Zealander: Auckland 29 percent; Wellington 33 percent; Christchurch 29 percent.
'Because only a proportion of crime is reported, this survey is important for us to understand the true volume and nature of crime in New Zealand, and who is affected by crime. This enables us to make better decisions.
The full report of the New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey will be published in the first quarter of 2019.
'We are planning a series of follow-up reports on specific topics, for example, a theme of this survey has been family violence and we will produce a specific paper on this. We also intend to make anonymised data available for researchers to do their own analysis.'
The survey will provide valuable information and data for the Ministry of Justice, Statistics New Zealand, Ministry of Social Development, Te Puni Kōkiri, the Police, Department of Corrections, Oranga Tamariki, and the Ministry for Women.
'It will also be of great interest to the universities and NGOs working in the justice sector,' he says.
Mr Swindells says the Survey uses improved methodology and replaces the previous NZ Crime and Safety Survey that took years to publish the results.
'Because this is the first survey of its kind, it is not possible to directly compare its findings to previous New Zealand or international crime research,' he says. 'But once the second Crime and Victims Survey is completed in 2019 we will be able to start making those detailed comparisons.'