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New Zealand Murder Rate continues to trend downwards

New Zealand Murder Rate continues to trend downwards

Contrary to the earlier claims of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, the murder rate in New Zealand has been trending downwards for some years now” says Dr Gabrielle Maxwell, consultant to the Rethinking Crime and Punishment project.

“There was a great outcry last year when in 2009-2010, 68 murders were recorded. While that was high, there were 68 murders in 1997-98, and 66 murders in 2001-2002.

This year the number of murders dropped to 45. What we know is that numbers vary markedly from year to year. Usually there are on average of 50 murders a year, and 100 homicides.

Murder is a relatively rare event, and it is difficult to identify a trend. The only way to do this is to obtain the total population data for the same period and calculate the murder rate for each year. That shows that despite the high number last year, the murder rate for 2009-2010 was lower than for the two other peak years.


This year’s low of 45 murders confirms that the murder rate in New Zealand is still trending downwards as it has been overall for some years. Murder is very difficult to prevent – it is not only a rare event in any country but it is also usually an unrehearsed response driven by strong emotion. More than most offences, it is an offence that occurs out of passion and those who murder once usually do not do so again.

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