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Survey aims to help build safer communities

8 February 2006

Crime and safety survey aims to help build safer communities

Justice Minister Mark Burton today announced the launch of the New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey 2006.

About 5,500 people throughout the country will be randomly selected for interviews over the next four months. Information about people's experiences of crime and their views of public safety will be used to reduce the effects of crime and help build safer communities.

The survey is important to fully understand crime and its effects on victims, families and communities, Mark Burton said.

"It's critical that we continue to develop a clear understanding of the impact crime has on its victims and the wider community. The survey is an invaluable way of helping measure the rates and impact of crime and highlight issues where more crime prevention is needed."

Previous surveys show that a significant proportion of crime goes unreported, with those from low-income groups at higher risk of being affected by crime.

"It's important that people report incidents of crime even those things that may seem minor. Having a clear picture of victimisation and its impact is key to preventing it from happening again, particularly for incidents that have historically been less often reported such as family violence," Mark Burton said.

Research company, ACNielsen (NZ) Ltd will conduct the interviews. Victoria University's Crime and Justice Research Centre will manage the survey and analyse data. It is anticipated the survey's key findings will be presented to the Ministry of Justice in December 2006.

The 2001 survey provided information that brought changes to victims' compensation, more initiatives for people with alcohol and drug problems, increased focus on communities likely to be affected by crime, and a range of initiatives to improve safety in public places.

Crime and safety survey background information

What is the New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey? >From 2006 onwards, the Ministry of Justice will be undertaking the survey every two years to find out about New Zealanders' feelings of safety and experiences of crime. A variety of government and community agencies will use the results to help plan better services for the victims of crime and build safer communities.

How many people will be surveyed? It is expected that over 13,000 households will be approached and 5,500 people subsequently interviewed. Interviewers will be out gathering information from people between 8 February and 7 June.

Is it compulsory? No. However, the Ministry encourages people to agree to be interviewed if they are chosen, because their information is important and will make a difference in helping make communities safer places – especially for their whanau, children and older people. It is also important to collect information from participants who have not experienced any crime, so that the survey findings show the true level of crime in New Zealand.

How will participants be chosen? Addresses will be chosen at random by computer.

What happens during the interviews? Experienced ACNielsen interviewers will leave information about the survey in the letterboxes of randomly selected households. After a couple of days, they will follow up by knocking on doors and inviting a member of the household who is at least 15 years old to participate in the survey.

Interviewers ask questions and enter responses into a laptop computer. Sensitive questions (such as those to do with domestic violence) can be entered silently and directly into the laptop by the participant. Responses are private and cannot be traced back to individual participants. Interviewers will carry identification and laptop computers. Interview clipboards will have large stickers with the name of the survey and logos of the Ministry of Justice and ACNielsen.

What type of questions will be asked? Questions cover a range of topics including how safe the participant feels in their community and how that affects their everyday life; their experience of crime and how they have been affected; if they told anyone else about their experience of crime; and the helpfulness of any agencies approached.

Can people volunteer for the survey? No. Respondents must be chosen at random for findings to be accurate.

When will results be published? Fieldwork will be finished in June, followed by statistical analysis of the results, and then writing the report.

It is expected that a 'Key Findings' report will be available in December 2006, with further detailed reports published in 2007.


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