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Confusion over BPS Reducing Crime and Reoffending Results

Confusion over BPS Reducing Crime and Reoffending Results


Date : 27th August 2014

A survey has revealed widespread confusion – even amongst professionals in the justice sector – about what the government’s reducing crime and reoffending progress reports actually mean.

A social network survey carried out by Rethinking Crime and Punishment shows, for example, that most respondents thought that the crime reduction results were describing a reduction in victim-reported crime, when the responsible Minister was actually reporting a reduction in police-recorded crime.

“Less than a quarter of the responses agreed with the Minster that recorded crime was the preferred measure,” said Kim Workman, spokesperson for Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

In July 2012 the government set targets for both the overall reduction in crime and the reduction of reoffending. Since then, the government has issued regular progress updates, informing the public of its success.

“We became concerned that the public were becoming increasingly confused at what these reported reductions meant.”

The survey respondents also indicated a lack of understanding on the reported reduction of reoffending by 12.5% since June 2011. Around 80% of the respondents believed that the government was measuring changes in anyone with a previous conviction. In fact, the official figures currently produced relate only to those sentences managed by Corrections.

“The confusion wasn’t confined to those without experience of the justice sector. A large number of Justice sector staff responded to the survey, including about 20% who indicated they are or have been employed by Corrections. Their responses demonstrated a similar range as other respondents, suggesting that even Justice officials don't greatly understand the metrics being used to assert crime reduction success.”

Reviewing the survey and the results, David Harpham, former Principal Strategic Adviser to the Department of Corrections, commented on the need to establish other means of measuring crime reduction, and cautions that crime reporting rates and re-conviction rates are not direct measures of offending. He also recommends establishing an independent body to transparently evaluate and benchmark justice sector outcomes.

“There is currently a lack of independent evaluation of programmes within the justice sector, and claims of success in the absence of independent assessment, should be treated with caution. We understand that the BPS Reducing Crime and Reoffending Strategy will be reviewed at the end of the year. It should consider the extent to which it relies on government agencies to report their own success or failure, and whether there should be a more vigourous external audit of performance.”

Resources:

Blog: http://blog.rethinking.org.nz/2014/08/understanding-bps-reducing-crime-and.html)
Survey Report:
http://www.rethinking.org.nz/assets/Papers%20and%20Presentations/Understanding_Crime_Reduction_Progress_Reports.pdf

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