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Prebble Crime Statistics Demonstrably False

17 June 2002

Prebble Crime Statistics Demonstrably False And Deliberately Misleading


Statistics used by ACT on crime are spectacularly dishonest and deliberately misleading, says Justice Minister Phil Goff.

“Claims by Richard Prebble at Act’s campaign launch yesterday are demonstrably false. His statement that ‘you are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime, an assault, a robbery, a home invasion or a rape in New Zealand than in the United States’ could not be more wrong and Mr Prebble knows it.

“The latest statistics made available to me by the Ministry of Justice show America had a rate of violent crime almost four times that of New Zealand.

“The US in the year 2000 had more than double the rate of rape per head of population than New Zealand, more than three times the rate of murder and robbery and over four times the rate of aggravated assault.

“His claim that we have the highest rate of violent crime in the OECD is equally false. Of the English speaking countries, which I have had researched, violent crime was 44 percent lower in New Zealand than in Canada and 13 percent lower than in England or Wales per head of population.

“Mr Prebble’s statement that ‘There are days when the murder rate exceeds the road toll’ similarly is designed to mislead.

“There were 53 murders in New Zealand last year while 394 people were killed in road accidents.

“Law and order is an important issue in this election campaign. Mr Prebble, however, will only damage his own credibility by making claims which can easily be demonstrated as being false, and which Mr Prebble himself knows to be false,” Mr Goff said.

Note: New Zealand v USA crime stats appendix attached.


Appendix to Phil Goff, Justice Minister release ‘Prebble crime statistics demonstrably false and deliberately misleading’

New Zealand compared to USA violent crime

Statistics for the USA were drawn from a publication compiled by the FBI as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) programme. The UCR adopts standard definitions of crime types that must be reported on by United States police agencies to enable comparative data to be generated. The publication is available at www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_00/00crime213.pdf

The definitions used for violent crime in America differ considerably from the New Zealand definition of violent offences. In UCR statistics, violent crime is composed of four offences: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. All violent crimes involve force or threat of force. However, a subsection of New Zealand violent & sexual assault offences can be drawn together to provide a comparative statistic to the UCR violence benchmark. The offences included in the American definition of violent crime and the equivalent New Zealand offences are provided in Table A1 in the appendix.

The following tables indicate the number of offences and the rate of recorded offences per 100,000 population for the four categories of violent crime as according to the American definition.

In 2000, America had more than double the rate of forcible rape per capita than New Zealand, more than three times the rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter and robbery than New Zealand per capita, and over four times the rate of aggravated assault per capita than New Zealand. The rate of total violent crime for America in 2000 was 506.1 per 100,000 population; almost four times the rate of 132.6 for New Zealand. Great caution, however, should be adopted in interpreting these comparative figures. In addition to the factors discussed in the earlier section “Comparisons between different countries”, there are significant differences in the criminal systems and offence definitions in the two jurisdictions.


Appendix to Phil Goff, Justice Minister release ‘Prebble crime statistics demonstrably false and deliberately misleading’

New Zealand compared to USA violent crime

Statistics for the USA were drawn from a publication compiled by the FBI as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) programme. The UCR adopts standard definitions of crime types that must be reported on by United States police agencies to enable comparative data to be generated. The publication is available at www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius_00/00crime213.pdf

The definitions used for violent crime in America differ considerably from the New Zealand definition of violent offences. In UCR statistics, violent crime is composed of four offences: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. All violent crimes involve force or threat of force. However, a subsection of New Zealand violent & sexual assault offences can be drawn together to provide a comparative statistic to the UCR violence benchmark. The offences included in the American definition of violent crime and the equivalent New Zealand offences are provided in Table A1 in the appendix.

The following tables indicate the number of offences and the rate of recorded offences per 100,000 population for the four categories of violent crime as according to the American definition.

In 2000, America had more than double the rate of forcible rape per capita than New Zealand, more than three times the rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter and robbery than New Zealand per capita, and over four times the rate of aggravated assault per capita than New Zealand. The rate of total violent crime for America in 2000 was 506.1 per 100,000 population; almost four times the rate of 132.6 for New Zealand. Great caution, however, should be adopted in interpreting these comparative figures. In addition to the factors discussed in the earlier section “Comparisons between different countries”, there are significant differences in the criminal systems and offence definitions in the two jurisdictions.


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