Response to the release of 2006 crime statistics
Annette King's response to the release of 2006 crime statistics by NZ Police
Increases in recorded cases of domestic violence and sexual offences in 2006 illustrate how important it is for New Zealanders to report such crimes, says Police Minister Annette King.
Commenting on the small overall increase in the total volume of recorded crime, Ms King says: "The two areas that stand out for me are domestic violence and sexual offences. As I said last year, I believe police efforts to encourage people to report family violence is paying off, and we are now seeing a truer picture emerging of a real cancer in our society. We can only succeed in making our communities safer if we know the true level of crime in society.
"It is interesting to reflect that in 1996-97 there were only 15, 242 family violence incidents reported compared with 37,112 in 2006. That shows that not only are efforts to encourage New Zealanders to report such offences actually working, but that New Zealanders feel safe in approaching the police, and that they trust the police to take appropriate action," she said.
The total volume of recorded crime in 2006 has risen 4.1 percent compared to the previous year, or 3.1 percent per 10,000 population. Within that overall total, recorded sexual offences have increased 9.7 percent, although they only make up 0.8 percent of recorded crime, while domestic violence offences, which make up 37 percent of all offences in the violence category, have increased 3.4 percent.
Ms King says it is encouraging that six police districts, including Northland and Auckland City, actually recorded decreases in the overall level of recorded violence in 2006. "The Government's commitment, through its confidence and supply agreement with NZ First, to recruit 1000 more frontline police over the next three years will succeed in making all our communities safer."
Ms King says NZ Police say that the increase in the total volume of recorded crime is related to the technical implications of a changeover in 2005 to a new system of recording offences, and that when offences for the second half of 2005 (when the new system came in to being) are compared to the second half of 2006, there is actually a small decrease in recorded crime.
"I hope that is the case, but I prefer to wait for a full year direct comparison of statistics before commenting more on that," she says. "I also expect the total number of recorded offences to increase when the single non-emergency number trial is completed, and that programme is rolled out across the country."
Ms King says she cannot over-emphasise the importance of New Zealanders going to the police for help in relation to domestic violence and sexual offences. "I believe there is trust among New Zealanders in the integrity and effectiveness of NZ Police, and I would expect that trust to increase even further when it is seen how NZ Police and the Government intend implementing recommendations in the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct, which is being made public this week."
Ms King says the Government has committed $900,000 through a Ministry of Research, Science and Technology grant to fund a research project, led by the Ministry of Women's Affairs in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice and NZ Police, aimed at encouraging adult victims to report sexual violence attacks and boost the conviction rate for sexual offences.
The project will investigate how many reports of sexual violence in New Zealand end up with a successful conviction, and will also look at ways to improve the likelihood of victims making formal complaints and investigate how victims can best be supported through the criminal justice system, she says.
"I also expect that the establishment of the Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence, set up last week to provide leadership and focus on this complex issue, will help convince New Zealanders that the Government means business in this area."