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The aim of this report is to examine recent trends in recorded crime in New Zealand. The majority of the data is provided for the seven-year-period, 1994 to 2000. Owing to a change in recording procedures, the only compatible data available prior to 1994 is for all offence categories combined.
The report begins by looking at changes in the total level of offending in New Zealand from 1970 to 2000. It then focuses on the proportion of offences that are resolved for various categories. Following this is a more detailed examination of trends in offending within each of the seven major offence categories.

Only offences recorded by the police are included in the data. An unknown number of crimes go unrecorded, so the actual volume of crime in any society exceeds official figures. Also, the proportion of offences that are recorded varies according to the type of offence, and whether there is a victim. An example of a 'victimless' crime is the possession of cannabis for personal use. As such crimes tend not to be reported to the police but rather detected by them, levels of offending are highly dependent on the level of police activity. Any changes in the levels of some types of recorded crime may be all or partly due to changes in policing practices, public perceptions or policy initiatives, for example advertising campaigns. Specific details are provided in certain cases.

The following are methods of counting offences that occur in the same incident:
  • More than one offence can be recorded from one incident, for example, intimidation, assault and fraud offences.
  • When an offender repeats an offence over a period of time, each repeat may be recorded as a separate offence or the series of repeats may be recorded as a single offence, depending on the circumstances. An example of an offence repeated over a period of time, but only resulting in one offence being recorded, is theft by a servant.
Two different measures can be used when investigating trends in crime:
  • Recording the absolute number of offences.
  • The rate of offending with respect to the size of the population.
This report will mainly concentrate on the latter, by measuring the number of offences committed per 1,000 people in the total population. The offence rate is the more appropriate measure for comparing levels of crime over time because in many situations the level of offending is affected by the size and composition of the total population. The offence rate shows the incidence of crime relative to population size.

Next related article: Forward to Overall offence rateOverall offence rate
Prev related article: Back to Report SummaryReport Summary

Back to Crime in NZ Report - Released July 2001 Index

The report begins by looking at changes in the total level of offending in New Zealand from 1970 to 2000

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