Agencies express concerns over crime statistics

Thu 10 Oct 2013

Annual crime statistics released by Statistics New Zealand have again raised concerns over how family violence is measured. Despite calls for ...

Annual crime statistics released by Statistics New Zealand have again raised concerns over how family violence is measured. Despite calls for more comprehensive statistics by NGOs, Police have not provided data specifically on family violence.

Family violence, not included in official statistics since the 2011 calendar year, has been indicated by the 'Dwelling Assaults' category. Police said, "Not all family violence occurs in Dwellings, and not all Dwelling Assaults are family violence. However, anecdotally, most Dwelling Assaults are family violence. So, even though it does not paint the complete picture, Dwelling Assaults is one indicator worth tracking to help understand what is happening with family violence". Dwelling Assaults rose by 1% (25,167 offences) in the last fiscal year.

New Zealand Police are currently developing a new statistical dataset on victims and offenders. They have said this will enhance the available statistical information relevant to family violence. In particular, it will include:

  • demographic attributes of victims, such as their age, gender and ethnicity (expected to be able to be produced by the end of 2013); and
  • the relationship between victims and offenders (expected to be able to be produced by the end of 2014).

During 2015, Police plan to begin publishing a new official statistics series on victims and offenders containing this new information.

Prior to the release of the crime statistics, Chief Executive of Women’s Refuge, Heather Henare, expressed concern that the lack of comprehensive data meant it wouldn't paint a true picture of the level of family violence in New Zealand.

Green MP Jan Logie said, "The fact we're told we won't have reliable data at all for this term of Parliament absolutely undermines the Government's goal of reducing crime. We know family violence is the primary driver and they have a target of reducing that by 20 per cent. If we can't measure it, it really puts that target into question."

Women’s Refuge, the Pacific Islands Safety and Prevention Project and Shakti also expressed concern about trends they are seeing in Police practice such as:

  • fewer prosecutions;
  • more diversions for serious domestic violence offences;
  • a trend towards not charging offenders; and
  • a greater reliance on the victim being the evidence provider.

Sexual assault

The crime statistics showed an increase in recorded sexual assault offences of 10.8%. Police said the increase is "likely to be a result of greater trust and confidence in police rather than a spike in offending". However Director of Rape Prevention Education, Kim McGregor, said not all complaints are taken seriously by Police. She acknowledged a new Police advanced adult sexual assault training and a positive relationship between TOAH-NNEST and Police. However she also cited a recent case where Police responded to a mother reporting the rape of her 16 year old daughter by saying she had probably just had sex with her boyfriend but called it rape to avoid being told off.

The crime statistics can be accessed at the Statistics New Zealand website.

Requests for specific data can be made to Police by emailing


Family violence up but charges down, Stuff, 20.10.13

Overall crime rates down, sex offending up, TVNZ, 01.10.2013

Sex offending up, overall crime decreases, 3 News, 01.10.2013

Crime continues to tumble, biggest reduction in Auckland, Beehive: Anne Tolley, 01.10.2013

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Police not taking all sexual violence complaints seriously - agency, Radio New Zealand, 01.10.2013

Calls for more police domestic violence training, NewsTalkZB, 01.10.2013

Crime drops by 7.4% in the 2012/2013 financial year, NZ Police, 01.10.2013

Briefing on police statistics relevant to family violence, NZ Police, 27.09.2013

Agencies say violence stats not accurate, 3 News, 25.09.2013

Crime stats must show domestic violence, Press release: Green Party, Community Scoop, 25.09.2013

Police Stats true picture of domestic violence in NZ?, Media release: Women's Refuge, Pacific Islands Safety and Prevention Project and Shakti, Scoop, 25.09.2013

Release of Police statistics October 1, 2013, Women's Refuge, 24.09.2013

Image: 3D Bar Graph Meeting by Scott Maxwell Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Image: Scott Maxwell