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Link Between Crime and Poverty Reports, Says Union

Friday, 14 July 2006

Link Between Crime and Poverty Reports, Says Union

There is a direct link between a Ministry of Development standard of living report and a treasury report showing the increasing cost of crime, says the National Distribution Union.

National Secretary Laila Harre says that reducing poverty through a decent standard of living for beneficiaries and low-paid workers is one of the most important forms of crime prevention.

“Poverty and under-employment are root causes of crime,” says Ms Harre. “The higher the standard of living and the more people feel they have a stake in society, the less crime they commit. Companies, who marginalise workers through low wages, casualisation, or unequal treatment because of age, contribute to the problem and everyone pays.”

“Rather than seeing the cost per prisoner increasing beyond $58,604 a year [1], we should be seeing a significant increase in the annual earnings of minimum wage workers up from $21,320 [2] and $10,660 for beneficiaries [3].”

Ms Harre said that the ethnic dimensions of economic injustice are shown in the increasingly disproportionate number of Maori and Pacific Islanders re-offending and in imprisonment, and under-employment, low paid jobs and severe hardship.

“Justice is about more than sentencing, it’s about economic justice and how we deal with the root causes of crime to create a fairer society for everyone,” she concluded.


[1] Based on the cost per prisoner per day of $161.91. Corrections Department Annual Report (2004-2005), http://www.corrections.govt.nz/public/news/statutory-reports/annualreport/annual-report-2004-2005/part-1/measuring-outcomes.html#figure-1

[2] Based on the adult minimum wage of $10.25 working 40 hours for 52 weeks.

[3] Based on the average weekly earning of $205 for a beneficiary. New Zealand Income Survey, June 2005 quarter: http://www2.stats.govt.nz/domino/external/pasfull/pasfull.nsf/web/Hot+Off+The+Press+New+Zealand+Income+Survey+June+2005+quarter?open

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