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Goff is Concerned with Figures, Not Victims

Goff is Concerned with Figures, Not Victims

ACT will not retract its criticism of our youth justice system just because the OECD has been persuaded by Mr Goff to withdraw its statistical comparison figures showing New Zealand has the worst youth crime in the OECD, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"In fact, nobody knows our real youth crime figures. A Youth Court note last year said:

"There is no centralised collection of statistics and trends about youth offending. What we do know must come from a comparison of figures from Police; Child Youth and Family; Department for Courts, and the Ministry of Justice. Even then, the statistics are sometimes not comparable.

There is an urgent need for a more co-ordinated and "scientific" approach to the collection of statistics about youth offending, ... The Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act came into force in late 1989 and most of the statistics date from soon after the commencement of that Act. The [researchers] have been hampered by unsatisfactory data collection."

"Internationally it is recognised that the most reliable crime figures come from professionally conducted victimisation surveys.

"The Minister's officials chose that New Zealand would not participate in the most authoritative world comparison, the International Victimisation Survey, organised by the Dutch government. Seventeen countries with which we would normally compare ourselves did participate, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.

"Instead, in 2001 the Ministry of Justice contracted with AC Nielsen to do a survey in New Zealand. The contracted final report date was March 29, 2002.

"Almost one year later, we have yet to see any figures. The delay is inexcusable. It was very convenient for the Government the results did not emerge before the election. In the absence of this information, the Ministers of Justice and Police used unreliable, "informal" police figures in June to claim that crime was dropping - when the final figures released by the police showed a dramatic increase in violent crime.

"Justice officials say the delay is to enable data to be `reworked'. It is hard to have any confidence in Mr Goff's approach to figures following his demonstrated mis-use of police statistics during the election campaign. I am very suspicious that the continued delay for data reworking is because the figures are unpalatable to the Minister. He should put his efforts into finding solutions and reducing the number of victims of crime, not attacking the figures," Mr Franks said.

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