Society

The numbers of justice

In 2012, New Zealand had the lowest number of recorded offences since 1994, when consistent records were first collected.
  • Image, police tape with evidence marker at a crime scene.

    Recorded crime continues to drop

    In 2012, New Zealand recorded the lowest number of criminal offences since 1994, when comparable records were first collected. There were 376,000 recorded offences in 2012, compared with 406,000 in 2011. This represents a 7.4 percent decrease (30,000 fewer offences).

    Figure 1 shows that since 1994, the highest number of recorded offences was in 1996, when over 477,500 offences were recorded. There was another peak in 2009, with over 450,000 offences. Since then, recorded crime has decreased steadily. By 2012, it was 17 percent lower than 2009.

    Figure 1

    National crime and imprisonment rate falls, conviction rates rise

    The national crime rate (recorded crimes per 10,000 people) shows a similar decrease over the four years to 2012.

    Table 1 shows that in 2009, there were 1,046 crimes per 10,000 people. By 2012 this had decreased 848 per 10,000 people. The table also shows this decrease occurred across all regions, with the biggest decreases in the Waitemata and Southern regions. Waitemata fell 26 percent, from 769.3 recorded crimes per 10,000 people in 2009, to 570.2 in 2012. In the far south, recorded crime fell from 952 per 10,000 people, to 707 per 10,000 people. 

    Table 1
     

    New Zealand crime rates
    By police district
    2009–12
    2009 2010 2011 2012 Change 2009–12
    District Rate (per 10,000 population) Percent
    Northland 1,116 1,095 976 985 -13
    Waitemata 769 674 661 570 -35
    Auckland 1,333 1,185 1,265 1,098 -21
    Counties/Manukau 1,118 1,012 966 845 -32
    Waikato 1,068 1,036 1,043 956 -12
    Bay of Plenty 1,190 1,164 1,092 1,013 -17
    Eastern 1,275 1,271 1,242 1,128 -13
    Central 932 891 844 785 -19
    Wellington 1,021 931 884 801 -27
    Tasman 1,086 991 944 879 -23
    Canterbury 957 930 730 773 -24
    Southern 952 872 750 707 -35
    New Zealand 1,046 976 922 848 -23

    Figure 2 shows how many charges the Ministry of Justice processed and finalised in the New Zealand court system. Over 338,000 charges were laid in criminal courts in 2009, which is the highest number since 1994. By 2012, this had decreased to just over 266,000.

    Figure 2

    Table 2 shows the number of charges that resulted in convictions also dropped, from 241,000 convictions in 2009 to 196,000 in 2012. Over the same time, the percentage of prosecutions resulting in conviction (the conviction rate) has increased gradually, from 71 percent in 2009, to 74 percent in 2012.

    Outcomes of charges heard in court
    2009–12
    Outcome 2009 2010 2011 2012 Change 2009–12 (percent)
    Convicted 241,450 229,524 20,371 196,020 -19
    Diversion, discharge without conviction 21,034 17,983 12,895 11,227 -47
    Not proved 75,357 66,523 57,560 57,862 -23
    Other 386 563 822 1,034 168
    Total 338,227 314,593 278,738 266,143 -21
    Conviction rate (percent) 71 73 74 74 ...
    Symbol: ... not applicable

    The number of prisoners in New Zealand under Department of Corrections management has increased over the past decade. Figure 3 shows the imprisonment rate (number in prison per 10,000 people) has gradually increased, from 14.6 in 1998 to 19.4 in 2012. The highest rate recorded over this time was in 2010, when 20.2 people were in prison per 10,000 people.

    Figure 3

    Progress on Better Public Service measures

    In June 2012, the government set 10 Better Public Services measures for the public sector to achieve by 2017.

    By December 2012, the national crime rate was 9 percent lower than in June 2011 (the baseline). Violent crime was down 7 percent, and the number of youths appearing in court had decreased 14 percent. Re-offending rates were down by 2.5 percentage points.

    See Better Public Services: reducing crime for more information on the measures.

    Source: New Zealand Police and Statistics New Zealand

Since 2009, recorded crime in New Zealand has decreased steadily.
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