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Lies, Damned Lies And Mr Prebble’s Statistics

ACT Leader, Richard Prebble’s blatantly inaccurate use of statistics and misstatements of fact undermine his party’s credibility, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today.

“Last week, ACT Leader, Richard Prebble, claimed that at 1021 per 100,000 people Hamilton had a higher rate of violent crime than New York.

“Waikato residents who challenged that statement and the impression that they were living in the crime centre of the world were right to be sceptical.

“The NZ Police ‘Violent Offences’ category Mr Prebble used for the Waikato includes a wide range of serious and lesser violent offences and does not include rape. The FBI ‘Violent Crime’ category he used for New York includes only 4 categories of the most serious offences including rape.

“When the more minor crimes are subtracted from the New Zealand statistics and rape is added, a more realistic comparison between Waikato violent crime and New York City violent crime can be made.

“Not surprisingly, New York City’s 872 per 100,000 population rate of violent crime in 2000 is 5 times higher than the more comparable rate of 162 violent offences per 100,000 population in the Waikato.

“Indeed, 249 (93 %) of the United States regions listed in the FBI report had a higher violence rate per capita than the Waikato Police district when similar definitions of violent crime are used.

“It must be noted that the difference in time period and differences in definitions and reporting procedures between jurisdictions mean that these figures are not completely comparable either. However, they are much more comparable than Mr Prebble’s statistics.

“In his speech in Hamilton, Mr Prebble also made statements, which he knows to be absolutely wrong.

“Take, for example, his statement that ‘a violent sexual offender must under Phil Goff’s Bill, be released after serving just a third of the sentence’.

“Firstly, the new legislation sets out a statutory instruction to judges that the worst offences should receive the maximum sentence under the law. This is much tougher than the existing law.

“Secondly, the automatic release of violent offenders at two-thirds of their sentence under the old law is abolished. Such offenders can be required to serve the very last day of their sentence.

“Thirdly, the Parole Board has as a statutory instruction that in considering parole, safety of the community must be the paramount consideration. Those at risk of reoffending must be kept in prison.

“Fourthly, judges can require that such inmates serve up to two thirds of their sentence before even being considered for parole.

“Mr Prebble damages the credibility of himself and his party in making wildly inaccurate statements in an apparently desperate bid to use fear to try to improve his flagging ratings in the polls,” Mr Goff said.

Categories of Violent Crime Used by ACT

NZ violent offences - FBI violent crime

homicide - murder
kidnapping & abduction - forcible rape
robbery - robbery
grievous assaults - aggravated assault
serious assaults
minor assaults
group assemblies
other violence


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