Violent crime continues to fall

April 1st, 2014 at 1:33 pm by David Farrar

crime

The latest stats are out. As you can see total crime continues to fall. Some people assert that crime has been consistently declining for 20 years or so. This is not quite correct. From 2004 to 2009 crime grew slightly. The change in trend since then is pronounced.

violentcrime

 

Now I’ve often said I don’t place much reliance on the total crime rate as it treats a minor crime such as possession of cannabis as the same as homicide. Also it can be affected by how much the Police target an area.

Hence the violent crime rate is the one I always focus on most, as victims of violent crimes are most likely to report the assaults. The graph above shows the 20 year trend,

The violent crime rate was fairly flat from 1996 to 2004, massively increased from 2004 to 2009 and since 2009 has been declining for the first time.

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52 Responses to “Violent crime continues to fall”

  1. RightNow (6,658 comments) says:

    Oh, I thought it was the Labour party polling results. I guess I should read the heading before looking at the graphs.

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  2. flash2846 (170 comments) says:

    Another measurable Labour government failure

    Violent crime was much higher under the last Labour government. Wont see this highlighted in the MSM.

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  3. anticorruptionnz (164 comments) says:

    Total crime is manipulated

    we dont take complaints from the public like we used to, we make them come to the station, they are only open when people are normally at work.

    when we do get people in to take a complaint we dont give a file number until we know we can clear it. we send the file off to our lawyers first who decide whether or not we are going to take the complaint.

    many complaints are now called civil we will soon have the day where when a burglar breaks into your house it will be called civil

    we dont like violence because it means people get hurt when they get hurt they claim ACC . ACC funds the police therefore the police deal with violence . Land transport also fund the police. Police is a business.. do not speed or hit any one.. corruption is fine, embezzlement is fine fraud is OK because no one funds it.

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  4. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    DPF,

    The violent crime rate was fairly flat from 1996 to 2004, massively increased from 2004 to 2009 and since 2009 has been declining for the first time.

    You choose 2004 as the starting point of an uptick but in actual fact 2004-2006 is also relatively flat and not outside the range of 96-04. The real divergence occurs 2007-2009 and the decline since is still above the average for 96-04.

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  5. duggledog (1,352 comments) says:

    The thing I find attractive about the Conservatives is that they reckon they will

    A: Will make criminals pay society by working off their debts whatever they are whilst inside

    B: Three strikes for burglary, and I’m assuming this is for car theft also

    ‘Burgs’ as they are colloquially known amongst the shit heads, are pretty much something to do when you are bored, for a bit of sport, or if you need a bit of cash.

    Let me know when violent crime dips below what it was in 1999 and heads downhill sharply from there. Otherwise, this country is far, far too dangerous considering we are hardly Afghanistan. As evidenced yesterday by the West Coast assault.

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  6. Judith (7,591 comments) says:

    So firstly, these are just the apprehensions, NOT the convictions. The people apprehended, may very well have been found not guilty in court.

    BUT what I notice DPF fails to point out is the sexual assault rate – 8.4? That’s a significant RISE under National. The most it was under Labour was 6.8.

    I wonder what we could attribute to that rise?

    Obviously National doesn’t find sexual assault important enough to put as much energy into fighting it, as it does other areas.

    What does that result say overall?

    I think one only has to work out the sex of most posters on this blog to find the answer to that.

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  7. thedavincimode (6,531 comments) says:

    massively increased from 2004 to 2009

    Coinciding with a booming consumption driven economy and a government dedicated to improving the lot of those less well off. Students and parents pulling in three or four times times the minimum wage. NZ socialism’s golden years.

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  8. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    flash2846 (124 comments) says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Another measurable Labour government failure

    Violent crime was much higher under the last Labour government. Wont see this highlighted in the MSM.

    What graph are you looking at?

    The current violent crime rate is above 2000-2006 and only slightly below 2007.

    It seems some people cannot look at anything without looking at it through the lens of their own political bias.

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  9. wreck1080 (3,730 comments) says:

    I like dpf’s ability to produce graphs showing how bad labour does at pretty much everything.

    violent crime is still pretty high compared to 1998.

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  10. Judith (7,591 comments) says:

    @ Weihana (4,413 comments) says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Well said – but that’s politics for you! And when you compare those trends to global, nothing unique is happening here!

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  11. Ed Snack (1,737 comments) says:

    I’d like to see the numbers de-trended for population, not sure how significant it would be over a short period though.

    Judith, I’d suggest that the sexual offending rate is far more than most affected by reporting bias. It could be that the higher rate is simply the result of long running efforts put in across the political spectrum to make such crimes more readily reported by supporting those making such reports. Your attempts to make political mileage of the issue is more than a little distasteful as it is a serious issue and not, I aver, a political football at all.

    [DPF: They are adjusted for population]

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  12. Judith (7,591 comments) says:

    @ Ed Snack (1,505 comments) says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Really? Of course you’d find it distasteful – most people do tend to prefer not to talk about our serious problem with sexual assault. It could be… all the things you suggest or it could be … that the crimes actually on the increase …

    However, according to those that work at the coal face they don’t agree with you … every now and then there is something that raises the issue, but it is usually quelled pretty quickly and goes back to hiding under the covers again – where everyone prefers it to remain.

    Too right I’ll make it political, this thread wouldn’t exist if someone hadn’t made serious violent crime rates (for which there is always victims) – also political. Thanks for the demonstration though Ed. Perfect example. Had DPF put in his post that ‘what is disturbing is the increase in sexual assaults’, you might have had a point regarding political, but he didn’t. ;-)

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  13. alloytoo (432 comments) says:

    Increasing prosperity coupled with a generous safety net means that most crime in NZ is the purview of career criminals (not counting crimes of passion).

    Three strikes and the improvements in rehabilitation appear to have lowered the opportunities in this field of endeavor.

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  14. tvb (4,202 comments) says:

    It needs much deeper analysis that the superficial pap in your article. My contention is the police laid domestic violence charges even when they knew it was waste of time. Now days they use police safety orders instead of laying charges which gets the offender out of the house for a few days as a cooling off. It would be interesting to chart the use of PSOs against the trend for laying of criminal charges for domestic violence.

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  15. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    >The violent crime rate was fairly flat from 1996 to 2004, massively increased from 2004 to 2009 and since 2009 has been declining for the first time.

    When did Mallard assault Tau Henare? Between 2004 and 2009? Is it possible that the increase in crime under Labour was mostly Trevor Mallard experiencing bike rage and assaulting people?

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  16. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    TDM: You have highlighted the huge bullshit that is the “poverty causes crime” theory (is it a “meme” also? I cant find a definition for that word). During the last years of the Clark government we had what by international standards is full employment…i.e about 4% unemployment. According to the theory, crime should have been plummeting…instead it rapidly increased.

    The recent “Listener” feature which discussed the supposed causative relationship between blood-lead levels and crime was discussed here recently. One of the things which stood out for me from that article was the unequivocal statement that there was no evidence to support the “poverty causes crime” theory – not anywhere….and the relationship between the two in New Zealand was so weak it was not considered statistically significant enough to even record.

    There you go…I got through a whole comment on crime without any reference to You know What !!

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  17. flash2846 (170 comments) says:

    @ Judith & @ Weihana

    Now-now girls; I call it as I see it. If you don’t like people on this blog disagreeing with you try adding something intelligent.
    Why are left wingers so thick?

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  18. thedavincimode (6,531 comments) says:

    The Scottish play?

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  19. Judith (7,591 comments) says:

    @ flash2846 (125 comments) says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    And we call it as we see it flash, so what makes it alright for you to do it, but not us? Have a problem with people disagreeing with you? Prefer your females to keep their mouths shut and only speak when they are spoken too? Having a different opinion does not make a person thick, but it is interesting that you should see it that way. Says a lot about you! ;-)

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  20. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    DVM: The Scottish Play…exactly! It has to be conceded that the begining of the decline in violent crime occurred at the end of 2008, 18 months or so before the Scottish Play was premiered….I will be most interested in what the line on the graph does when Act III is staged, probably within the next 12 months.

    It is easy to forget the Nat Act government passed a whole raft of law and order measures soon after getting into office in November 2008…but one must also take into account the dramatic change in practice by the Parole Board after Burton’s rampage in February 2007…Parole went from pretty much guranteed on the second application to very hard to get, and quickly revoked for breaches of conditions. That happened pretty much overnight.

    I recall seeing the results of applications by one Rufus Junior Marsh – one of NZ’s relatively few two time killers – in 2006, and then after Burton. The 2006 ruling – declining parole – said that he was undergoing “bi-cultural therapy” (whatever the fuck that was) and doing well and making “good progress” in one on one sessions with a psychologist (This 20 years after he was locked up for his second killing)

    After Burton, the ruling changed dramatically, and said that there was no chance Marsh would be released “until wearied by age.” Not long after that Marsh did us all a favour and suicided.

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  21. Michael (896 comments) says:

    The stats are based on notification, not apprehension. You can’t manipulate that.

    I’m concerned about the increase in sexual offending and would want to see more than a glib ‘more reporting’ response. Some hard evidence to back up that assertion would be good, especially if the crimes are classified as the year they are reported, rather than the year the offence occured (i.e. historic crimes being reported now because of better detection and enforcement tools).

    Otherwise, a pleasing result.

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  22. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    wreck 1080: You make a perfectly valid point…while we on the right are all busily congratulating ourselves we must remember that crime is sky high compared with the 1950′s when the homicide rate was consistently less that .5 per 100,000 per year…its now about three times that…and that’s despite huge advances in trauma medicine and means of reaching hospital care…Put shortly, the stab in the guts that would almost certainly kill you in 1964 now is a readily survivable injury.

    And it’s not just homicide of course – in fact homicide has always been all over the place year on year because of our small population. Violent crime per 100,000 – minus the sharp peaks and troughs of the homicide graph – has always closely mirrored homicide. Armed robbery of liquor stores was unknown in the 1950′s…in fact a box of chocolate fish to anyone who can find reference to one in the media of the time.

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  23. mikenmild (10,686 comments) says:

    Not many liquor stores in the 1950s though, were there?

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  24. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    Mikey: I was waiting for that…No, but there were plenty of gas stations which were high cash businesses…no eft-pos or credit cards back then…The same box of chocolate fish for anyone who can find reference to a hold up of a gas station in the 1950′s…or 60′s

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  25. RRM (9,445 comments) says:

    What happened in 2004 that started the massive increase in violent crime?

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  26. Fentex (866 comments) says:

    It’s always interested me that demographers have been predicting a bulge in violent crime around now because there’s a bulge in baby boomers grandchildren and therefore relatively more unruly teen males about.

    The 2004 ~ 2009 period doesn’t really map terribly well to it, it’s these years now that are the peak of teen male grandchildren of Baby Boomers, so it looks like the long term trend of decrease in violence is not much perturbed as demographers thought it would be by these children.

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  27. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    Fentex: “Demographic bubbles” are a very common explanation from “experts” who dont wish to acknowledge that a drop in crime coincides all over the western world with more punitive justice and penal policies…More readily available abortions, removing lead from petrol and paint…any explanation at all will do, so long as it’s NOT “more comprehensive policing and harsher sentences”.

    One of the best examples of leftie dishonesty on this is the “more readily available abortions” theory which was put forward by Steven Levitt, the author of “Freakonomics”, in a paper called “Understanding why crime fell in the 19990′s – four factors that explain the decline and six that do not”. Of the four factors Levitt sees as explaining the drop in US crime in the 90′s, “more readily available abortions” is number 4/4, and the one he describes as having a very weak correlation with crime. His first two and most important factors are 1) Increases in the numbers of police and 2) the rising prison poplulation. He regards “demographic changes” as one of the factors that had nothing to do with the decrease.

    But what do you hear about Levitt from the left? ONLY the more readily available abortions theory… the factor he considers had LEAST effect..no mention of numbers 1 and 2 in his list of 4.

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  28. nasska (10,659 comments) says:

    RRM

    …”What happened in 2004 that started the massive increase in violent crime?”…..

    It won’t be the total answer but it is not totally coincidence that 2004 was when the use of ‘meth’ was becoming endemic in NZ:

    ….”The use of P, or methamphetamine, took off like a rocket in 2002. By 2005, it had crossed all sections of society — the party scene, the smart suburbs, the poor suburbs. Now it has become a fixture of the New Zealand landscape. Public enemy No. 1. “…..

    “P” can completely stuff people’s minds & cause them to commit violence never mind the need for money to feed raging habits. For reasons unknown the police sat back & watched the destruction. By the time they shifted arse the genie was out of the bottle.

    Ref: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/361253/How-NZ-fell-prey-to-the-demon-P

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  29. griffith (1,111 comments) says:

    Lberal lefty see the fuzzy wuzzy side of individual right protection far more valuable than the protection of society as its whole.
    Witness the trash and the tourists phenomena .
    Do horrific crime to innocents to often and the pain you cause us all calls for your culling from society.

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  30. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    Nasska: P was certainly a factor…I remember one senior cop telling me when I was in Parliament that EVERY really nasty violent crime in the previous 5 years had P in the story somewhere…I tried to include P manufacture and sale as a You Know What offence for that reason, but neither Rodders nor the Nats would go for it…

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  31. griffith (1,111 comments) says:

    The P epidemic was also a reflection of some of the traditional bikie gangs losing a strangle hold on amphetamine supplied. The hells angel in particular attacked any one who infarcted on their busnes with extreme prejudice,

    P was easier to cook and the skills and chemistry supplier networks had been already developed by the homebake industry of the late seventy. This group transferred into the amphetamine market of the bike gangs with often the same cooks and networks involved to seed the rapid growth of P supply in this coutry.

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  32. nasska (10,659 comments) says:

    Why did the police take so long to wake up to what was going on DG? Normally they are proactive & lobbying flat out to have anything that threatens their easy lives banned & the perpetrators drawn & quartered.

    If they spent a fraction of the time & resources they commit to jumping out of helicopters to rip out a few dope plants the devastation that “P” produces could have been contained.

    It was only the landlords in NZ who got fed up with their rentals being used as drug labs that got any action from the government.

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  33. griffith (1,111 comments) says:

    I vividly remember someone challenging piggy Muldoon on the amphetamine market and bike gangs .
    Within a month one of the smaller groups of self styled 1% the “grubby who” or some such were thrown to the wolves.

    The real culprits pulling the strings….

    laughed at the police..

    eliminating rivals…

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  34. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    Nasska: I cant answer that question… But I am glad to see you are a member of the “middle aged commenters who cant see the point” gang with regard to spending huge sums of money ripping out a small proportion of the yearly cannabis crop…I dont hold with the “its a harmless drug” line, but there are certainly many more things the cops should be prioritizing than aged stoners – or the young kids who will inevitably try it anyway…just as we did. I’m told its mostly grown indoors with stolen electricity now anyway…

    and some dickhead’s given me a down tick for accurately summarizing Levitt’s paper…

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  35. nasska (10,659 comments) says:

    ….” a member of the “middle aged commenters who cant see the point” gang “…..

    Flattery will get you everywhere DG…..next month I’m off into town to sign up for the codger dole. :)

    But I see marijuana in exactly the same light as alcohol & tobacco. There are arguments against their use but there is no good reason to prohibit their consumption by adult citizens. In fact, I’ll go so far as to suggest that if one must be banned, all should be banned.

    Sauce for the goose & all that.

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  36. griffith (1,111 comments) says:

    The legal high market has had a huge impact on tinny houses.
    A lot of the private individual growers just supply the 1oz buying friendly networks.
    There does not seem to be much research or even comment on this aspect of the new law.
    I have known Matt Bowden socially for years and look forward to eyeing him again to discuss the issues from his perspective some day.

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  37. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (786 comments) says:

    Chief of Staff Matt McCarten says – “Record crime is low because nobody bothers to record crime any more” – Me thinks he is right…what say you?

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  38. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    Nasska: I pretty much agree with that…anyone who tries to argue that alchohol is not an extremely problematic drug – or worse that it’s not a drug at all – is a fool in my view..

    Sir Cullen: The “nobody reports crime any more” argument certainly may have some validity for burglary…for the uninsured there is absolutely no point i reporting a burg…all anyone gets is a file number for the insurer..

    The same argument certainly does not apply for “You know what” offences…while some of the plebs may not bother reporting being beaten up or raped by members of their own “communities” the rest of us certainly do…I have even heard some dickheads arguing that murder is “underreported”…the last time that may have been true is during the gold rush days when there were very few cops and no telecommunications…

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  39. griffith (1,111 comments) says:

    You could also look at the ratio of missing no trace to believed murdered and conviction of murder to manslaughter over time. ?

    We used to be the wild wild and lawless.

    south pacific.

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  40. jackinabox (578 comments) says:

    How do you tell if a policeman is lying?

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  41. Scott (1,707 comments) says:

    Mr Garrett is too modest to mention it but he has an excellent article in the latest “Investigate” magazine. Well worth reading!

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  42. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    Scott: You are too kind…

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  43. Fentex (866 comments) says:

    who dont wish to acknowledge that a drop in crime coincides all over the western world with more punitive justice and penal policies…More readily available abortions, removing lead from petrol and paint…any explanation at all will do, so long as it’s NOT “more comprehensive policing and harsher sentences”.

    I too disdain the easy answers drawn from weak correlations, but the idea that harsher penalties are a better explanation doesn’t even have weak correlations – it occurs in places where there is no such correlation at all.

    There’s an interesting article on the subject written by a British news announcer who got interested in the topic after a colleague of his was murdered. This is an article I think drawn from his writing on the topic. It isn’t the particularly interesting one I read, but I can’t find that online. It is however an intriguing summation of an investigators view on what is to be learnt about crime.

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  44. Nookin (3,034 comments) says:

    “How do you tell if a policeman is lying?”

    The only sure fire sign is when the policeman says that Jackinabox is capable of rational and objective comment about the police force in NZ

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  45. jackinabox (578 comments) says:

    How do you tell if Nookin is a hopeless judge of character?

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  46. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    nasska (9,333 comments) says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    RRM

    …”What happened in 2004 that started the massive increase in violent crime?”…..

    It won’t be the total answer but it is not totally coincidence that 2004 was when the use of ‘meth’ was becoming endemic in NZ:

    I don’t believe this is accurate.

    The New Zealand Health Survey shows that amphetamine use dropped from 2003-2013.


    Past year’ amphetamine use – time trends Amphetamine use has been measured in previous national New Zealand surveys. Data from these surveys were re-analysed to ensure comparability with the latest NZHS data. Overall, the findings
    from these surveys indicate that the prevalence of ‘past year’ amphetamine use declined from 2003 to 2012/13 for 16–64 year olds (see Table 1). This decrease remained significant after adjusting for age.

    http://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/amphetamine-use-2012-13-dec-13.pdf

    In summary, table 1 lists four surveys with usage rates as follows:

    2003: 2.7%
    2007/08: 2.2%
    2011/2012: 0.9%
    2012/2013: 0.9%

    It is not obvious how this correlates with the crime statistics provided here. Crime didn’t spike in 2004. It can clearly be seen that the rate in 2006 is about the same as in 2001 and about the same as in 1996. People can thumb my comment down all they like, but the graph is quite clear.

    David Garrett (5,027 comments) says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Nasska: P was certainly a factor…I remember one senior cop telling me when I was in Parliament that EVERY really nasty violent crime in the previous 5 years had P in the story somewhere…I tried to include P manufacture and sale as a You Know What offence for that reason, but neither Rodders nor the Nats would go for it…

    I think you are misinterpreting correlation vs causation. Equally I’m sure the same could be said about alcohol. The difference being that we are biased to see a causative correlation with a drug for which we are keenly aware of its effects on people’s health and mental wellbeing. But like all drug abuse, it is primarily a health problem in my view and use of meth is simply more likely to be a symptom of underlying problems with an individuals character that may also predispose them to other criminal behavior.

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  47. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    Just had a look at “Stuff”…suprise surprise, some expert attributes the falling crime rate to “economic fluctuations, ageing poplulation and changing social attitudes”…No mention at all of more punitive sentencing policy…

    Obviously Stuff’s expert hasn’t read the Listener’s, who says there is no statistically significant correlation between economic fluctuations and crime…

    Expect more of this kind of “explaining”…

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  48. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    David Garrett (5,027 comments) says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Fentex: “Demographic bubbles” are a very common explanation from “experts” who dont wish to acknowledge that a drop in crime coincides all over the western world with more punitive justice and penal policies…More readily available abortions, removing lead from petrol and paint…any explanation at all will do, so long as it’s NOT “more comprehensive policing and harsher sentences”.

    The reason, I assume, many reject the notion that higher rates of incarceration primarily explain drops in crime is because it doesn’t correlate with the trend. Incarceration in the US increased through the 70s and 80s but the crime rate continued to climb. If incarceration reduced crime, then why did the crime rate increase through the 70s and 80s?

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  49. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    Weihana: Show me the evidence that imprisonment rates in the US increased in the 70′s and 80′s…Actually I have just had a look at Levitt’s Paper “Understanding why crime fell in the 1990′s… ” (Google it…it’s well worth a read) You are correct in that there was an increase in adult incarceration rates from the late 70′s…but incarceration rates really took off from the early 90′s, and rose exponentially from there.

    Levitt much of course be a good source, because he’s the guy who came up with the “more readily available abortions” theory…the only slight hitch being, as I said yesterday, he sees that factor as 4th of 4 factors in order of importance, and Better Policing strategies and Increases in prison population as the first and second most important factors respectively.

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  50. Fentex (866 comments) says:

    incarceration rates really took off from the early 90′s, and rose exponentially from there.

    But didn’t in other jurisdictions that also see a steady fall in offending. Some places have correlations with increased imprisonment and drops in offending, others don’t.

    It is not a explanation that fits the whole pattern, just as many other correlations preferred by others do not.

    It may be that it is vain to hope to find an over-arching explanation for something that is a simple artefact of lumping disparate statistics together into a meaningless average.

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  51. David Garrett (6,400 comments) says:

    Fentex: Now you are starting to talk more sensibly…there is little doubt that a range of factors have contributed to crime falling in NZ and in most of the western world…When 3S was going through Parliament I was always careful to make it clear that it was NOT some magic bullet which would magically eliminate violent crime.

    What irks me about the left’s commentators is the complete refusal to acknowledge ANY effect arising from better policing and harsher sentencing – the two factors Steven Levitt sees as most causative of crime reduction in the US from the 1990′s on. They are happy to quote Levitt – and others – regarding factors they approve of, but just ignore the rest.

    Similarly with the guy in the ‘Listener’ on lead in petrol and paint – you can bet your arse his conclusion that unemployment has absolutely nothing to do with crime rates will never get a mention, while the blood/lead levels “evidence” will be talked up endlessly.

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  52. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    David Garrett (5,039 comments) says:
    April 2nd, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Weihana: Show me the evidence that imprisonment rates in the US increased in the 70′s and 80′s…Actually I have just had a look at Levitt’s Paper “Understanding why crime fell in the 1990′s… ” (Google it…it’s well worth a read) You are correct in that there was an increase in adult incarceration rates from the late 70′s…but incarceration rates really took off from the early 90′s, and rose exponentially from there.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._incarceration_rates_1925_onwards.png

    (these figures represent state and federal inmates (omits local jails)

    1973 ~ 100 per 100,000
    1986 ~ 200 per 100,000
    1990 ~ 300 per 100,000

    So the rate had tripled by the time the 90s had arrived.

    1995 ~ 400 per 100,000
    2006 ~ 500 per 100,000

    Seems to me the gradient of the slope is most inclined through the 80s.

    It is unclear why there would be a lag where the incarceration rate tripled before the crime rate started to fall. Surely if more incarceration is the primary factor then some effect would be noticed almost straight away since the theory is that they can’t commit more crime if they are behind bars. However, a crime rate which continues to increase suggests that the criminals being locked up are simply being replaced which tends more to a demographic explanation for the 90s decrease in the crime rate.

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