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Govt Suppressed Crime Survey - Prebble Speech

Government Has Suppressed Crime Survey that Shows New Zealand Crime Levels Highest in OECD

Thursday 27 Jun 2002

Speech by Hon Richard Prebble, Leader ACT NZ,

to a public meeting to launch ACT's Tauranga campaign

at the Mount Ocean Sports Centre, Mount Maunganui,

on Wednesday 26^th June at 7.30pm

The Justice Ministry did a household survey on violent crime at the end of last year. The survey was to have been released last month.

The Minister of Justice, Phil Goff, is refusing to release the survey prior to the election, claiming that the figures "need to be worked on". I have written to Mr Goff, asking him to release the results under the Official Information Act. You can bet that if the results were favourable to the government, Mr Goff would be releasing them.

ACT understands the survey shows that a woman is more likely to be the victim of violent crime in New Zealand than in any OECD country.

While the United States' homicide rate is higher than New Zealand, you are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime in New Zealand than in America.

ACT has been told by usually reliable sources that the latest household survey shows violent crime has increased since 1996. That is credible, because violent crime according to police statistics has risen 14.9 percent since the last election.

The 1996 survey revealed truly shocking rates of crime. It showed that the incidence of violent offending, including sexual assault, for New Zealand Europeans in 1995 was 33.38 percent; for Maori, 72.4 percent and for Pacific Islanders 236.12 percent.

This doesn't mean that every Pacific Islander was assaulted 2.3 times that year, but that there are some Pacific Island people - women especially - who are victims of multiple assaults, sometimes weekly.

This survey provides the concrete evidence for what every voter knows - that violent crime in New Zealand is out of control.

The survey shows that it is those who traditionally vote Labour who are suffering the highest levels of crime.

Instead of publishing the facts about crime, Phil Goff got his politically-correct officials to publish data comparing police arrest rates. Comparing police statistics are almost useless. Take an offence like assault. What is the difference between assault, serious assault and grievous assault? Most people cannot tell you for this country - and we certainly can't compare with other countries because their definitions are so different.

Even an offence like murder. Phil Goff says we have 60 murders a year in New Zealand. His own report says its 97 - and then he says crime is not increasing.

From 1920 to 1960, a period of 40 years, the first 12 years of my life, there were just two murders a year! What Phil Goff's politically-correct report does not reveal is that crime is rising. What it does not show is that violent crime today is much more violent. The beatings are more savage, the attacks more meaningless. Offences like `home invasion', kidnapping, armed robbery, were almost unheard of just a decade ago.

The Labour Government is fiddling even with the burglary statistics. Theft has rocketed, as more and more offences that two years ago would have been recorded as burglary are now being recorded as theft.

But even if we take the police statistics - for the Bay of Plenty they are truly shocking. In the two years of this Labour/Alliance/Green government, violent crime has increased in the Bay of Plenty by 24.1 percent.

Much of this crime is committed by early-released prisoners. Phil Goff in Parliament this year claimed that early-released prisoners' offending rate was low. A Justice Ministry survey shows him to be wrong. Over a third of all prisoners re-offend in six months, and three-quarters within two years.

Labour has ignored the Norm Withers referendum and is releasing violent prisoners even earlier, after just a third of their sentence. So a rapist sentenced to nine years jail can now be out in three years.

Now, by law, all offenders sentenced to two years jail or less must be released after half their sentence. National's policy, to go back to their own law of releasing after two-thirds, is not much better. ACT advocates Truth-in-Sentencing, where offenders serve their full court-imposed sentences. This measure will reduce crime.

We also need the successful New York approach to policing, `Zero Tolerance for Crime', that has reduced New York crime by 30 percent.

ACT has practical workable solutions.

Ninety-two percent of the electorate told Parliament that we wanted tougher sentences, and we saw the results of the referendum treated with contempt. But there is a referendum that Parliament can't ignore. ACT is campaigning for voters to use their party vote for ACT, as a referendum on crime that Parliament can't ignore.


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