New Zealanders have a range feelings about criminal justice system

New Zealanders are divided in their views of whether crime is a choice, but there is strong consensus that people who offend can go on to lead productive lives with the right effort and support, a study has found.

Published today by the Ministry of Justice, the Social Wellbeing and Perceptions of the Criminal Justice System report draws results from the New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey 2019 – released in May this year – which interviewed 8,000 people about their experiences and perceptions of crime.

“The report has some fascinating insights into what Kiwis agree on and what they don’t,” Sector Deputy Secretary Tim Hampton says. “While there were differing views on the contribution of social circumstances and personal choice, the vast majority of people agreed that offenders can go on to lead productive lives with some help and hard work.

“Most New Zealanders believe the Police and groups that support victims are doing a good job, and they have a high level of trust in them. This trust decreases when it comes to courts and Corrections, which is consistent with previous New Zealand and international studies.

The report reveals disparities among different groups of people, such as their feelings of safety and their experience of the criminal justice system in general.

“While there is a solid level of trust in the criminal justice system, Pacific peoples and Indian New Zealanders are more concerned about being the victim of a crime than other New Zealand adults,” Mr Hampton says. “Māori and Pacific peoples are less likely to agree that New Zealanders are treated fairly by the Police. Māori, Chinese and Pacific adults are all less likely to feel that their values align with the criminal justice system than other adults.

“The results shed light on areas of the criminal justice system that could be improved and made safer and more effective for all New Zealanders, which can provide a baseline to examine the effectiveness of initiatives.”

These results are similar to the findings of an online survey with voluntary participation of around 5,000 people conducted late last year by the Government’s criminal justice reform project – Hāpaitia Te Oranga Tangata, which was also published today.

“While there are disparities between the two reports, which use different methodologies, there was common ground found on a number of topics including that the goal of the criminal justice system should be to help offenders so they don’t reoffend,” Mr Hampton says.

The Hāpaitia survey provided a more qualitative insight into New Zealanders’ views of proposals to transform the criminal justice system, particularly among those who’ve experienced it personally, and found an overwhelming majority of people surveyed want transformation in the justice system.

Social Wellbeing and Perceptions of the Criminal Justice System Report [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Hāpaitia te Oranga Tangata - Justice survey report 2019 [PDF, 1.1 MB]


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