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OECD Teen Crime Figures Inaccurate and Misleading

OECD Teen Crime Figures Inaccurate and Misleading

Claims that New Zealand had the world's highest teen crime offending in 1997 are grossly misleading and inaccurate, says Justice Minister Phil Goff.

"I am advised by the Ministry of Justice that the international comparison of juvenile offending in the OECD survey is 'not worth the paper it is written on.' They are simply not comparing like with like, because of huge differences in the way the statistics are compiled.

"For example, our statistics count every individual offence, while other jurisdictions count individual offenders. A person who has committed 50 offences will be counted in apprehension figures 50 times, but in other countries they may be registered only once. Police offender apprehension figures in New Zealand would, at the very least, be double the actual number of individual offenders.

"This morning Justice officials checked with Canada on whether their data was compiled the same way. A leading Canadian commentator on juvenile offending, Professor Tony Doob, reports that Statistics Canada regarded the figures on juvenile apprehensions in Canada as being so totally unreliable that they have stopped publishing them.

"In addition, he confirms that a comparison cannot be made with New Zealand data because Canada groups multiple offences as one case against an individual, whereas New Zealand lists all individual offences.

"It is unfortunate that these fundamental errors were not checked out first before stories with grossly misleading headlines were written.

"The Ministry of Justice is writing to the OECD highlighting the inaccuracies of the comparisons drawn and asking that future surveys making comparisons be based on figures which actually compare like with like," Mr Goff said.

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