Charges are not the same as offences recorded

July 9th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police charging fewer criminals to meet the Government’s reduction targets are to blame for the sharp drop in police prosecutions for family violence offences, the Party says.

But the Government and police have strongly rejected this, with Police Minister Anne Tolley calling the claim “unfounded” and a desperate attempt to get a headline in an election year.

More that that it shows Labour doesn’t even understand the official crime statistics.

The crime reduction targets have nothing to do with whether people are charged or not. It is basically impossible to reduce the crime rate by not charging people who have been reported as having committed an offence.

To quote Stats NZ:

All reports of incidents, whether from victims, witnesses, third parties, or discovered by police, and whether crime-related or not, will result in the registration of an incident report by police. The incident will be recorded as one or more offences if:

  • the circumstances as reported amount to a crime defined by law, and

  • there is no credible evidence to the contrary

Whether or not someone is charged has no impact on whether the report is recorded as a crime.

The violent crime stats tend to be the most reliable, because they are based on complaints being laid. Other categories of crimes can rise or fall depending on how much energy the Police put into them, especially drug crimes. Drug crimes do not normally involve a complainant, so the level of recorded drug crime will depend on how much effort the Police put into the area. But violent crime is almost entirely based on complaints from victims or witnesses, and a decision to not charge an offender will not impact the crime stats. It will impact the stats on charges and convictions, but they are different stats to the crime stats.

So the short version of this is that Labour are talking through a hole in their head. They just don’t understand that even if their allegation is true (which I would not assume to be the case), it doesn’t impact the crime stats.

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35 Responses to “Charges are not the same as offences recorded”

  1. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    #stupidlabour

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  2. Chris2 (770 comments) says:

    I think the wider issue is how can we trust Labour to be honest in government if they twist and manipulate figures in Opposition.

    But perhaps even more worryingly, what if they did not deliberately twist these figures and that they honestly believe them to be true?

    If that is the case then it is an indictment on their MP’s intelligence (and their researchers), and that really does reflect on the competence of these Labour MP’s to manage the country – that they can so easily get it wrong.

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  3. greenjacket (487 comments) says:

    Labour are just making sh*t up as they go along.
    Andrew Little could have emailed a request for explaining crime stats to go to the Parliamentary Library researcher on crime stats, and he would had a response within 20 minutes.
    Not merely inept, but lazy as well.

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  4. OneTrack (3,235 comments) says:

    “I think the wider issue is how can we trust Labour to be honest in government”

    We can’t trust them for much, except to stuff things up. New Zealand is only just chugging along, in an ongoing GFC world. It would only take a few weeks of these numpties in power to steer us off the precipice.

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  5. Mr_Blobby (191 comments) says:

    Have you tried to report a crime lately. You have to jump through hoops and then go to a Police station to have it lodged properly.

    The number of unreported crimes has been growing as people can’t be bothered with all the bureaucratic bullshit.

    Have you tried to get the Police to investigate anything these days. You have to basically carry out the investigation for them and present the results then give them first opportunity to act on it or offer to do it yourself if they are to busy. Oh and follow up because they wont.

    If you offer to do it for them if they are to busy they will do something, but you have to give them first opportunity to protect yourself.

    You have to work back from your defense should things go to far to protect yourself.

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  6. NK (1,257 comments) says:

    In the police it’s called K6 – offence reported. Then there is K9 – someone charged.

    Has Little figured out that under Labour sexual crime recording would go through the roof as all sexual encounters could be reported as crimes until proven otherwise.

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  7. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Whether or not someone is charged has no impact on whether the report is recorded as a crime.

    Yes, that is right, but refusing to make a record of a complaint, and therefore making it a ‘reported crime’ does make a difference. Often police frequently discuss matters with ‘complainants’ and come to a mutual agreement not to make it a matter of record. This can effect statistics, depending on whether the practice becomes more common or not.

    What has had an impact on crime stats is the fact that many insurance companies have dropped the requirement for all ‘thefts’ etc to be reported to the police, before insurance can be paid. Now most only have this requirement for goods over a certain amount.

    Not to mention the fact that many people simply don’t bother to report certain crimes, because its not worth the bother, when nothing is done about it anyway.

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  8. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “#stupidlabour”

    Stupidcops

    When I reported a camera stolen from my car the cop asked me to show him my car so I did. He then gave it the once over and fucked off back inside the cop shop when he found nothing illegal. Is it any wonder I hate then so much? Poxy cops!

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  9. NK (1,257 comments) says:

    Often police frequently discuss matters with ‘complainants’ and come to a mutual agreement not to make it a matter of record.

    How frequently does this occur, Judith?

    When I reported a camera stolen from my car the cop asked me to show him my car so I did. He then gave it the once over and fucked off back inside the cop shop when he found nothing illegal.

    The theft had already occurred. What illegality was the officer trying to find looking in your car?

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  10. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    What did you want jackinabox? CSI to yeaaaahh! on to the scene and shine a blue light on everything?

    A stolen camera, no witnesses, no identifying information left at the scene, not worth the full forensic treatment. Bad luck, its gone, unless you get really lucky you will never ever see it again, claim insurance, pay the excess, move on.

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  11. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    They have given up on fighting this election on actual policy & numbers – they have to resort to making up imagined controversy and scandal & pray that something sticks.

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  12. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    Often police frequently discuss matters with ‘complainants’ and come to a mutual agreement not to make it a matter of record. This can effect statistics, depending on whether the practice becomes more common or not.

    Only if they are doing that more and more often. Otherwise the change in the statistics wont be affected.

    And of course there are very valid reasons why someone would be counselled to not proceed with a complaint. Complaining about this strategy without addressing those reasons is just damning the police for doing their job well.

    Not to mention the fact that many people simply don’t bother to report certain crimes, because its not worth the bother, when nothing is done about it anyway.

    And this wont affect the stats either unless there has been a substantial change in behaviour and what would have been reported last year, isnt being reported now.

    I doubt you could come up with a reason why that would be the case.

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  13. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “The theft had already occurred. What illegality was the officer trying to find looking in your car?”

    “What did you want jackinabox? CSI to yeaaaahh! on to the scene and shine a blue light on everything?”

    I’m sorry, I put you crook, the poxy cop checked my warrant, rego, diesel miles and tread depth. He was not the slightest bit interested in the theft of my camera except for asking, “why do you keep a camera in your car?”

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  14. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    Unsolvable petty theft isnt high on his KPI’s I would say. But there is probably a tally box for rego and warrant checks.

    Why DO you keep a camera in your car?

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  15. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    This sort of slime ball behaviour wasn’t a one off either; my sister in law reported that a slow cooker had been stolen from her house while she was out and they checked her car for rego and stuff as well.

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  16. flipper (4,230 comments) says:

    There are several issues here:

    1. Labour knows perfectly well how the crime stats are constructed and published by NZ stats – not National.org.nz

    2. But the stats do NOT suit their narrative. Ergo the outlandish claims.

    3. The “definition of violence is now wide, and the public does not understand that shouted words or snide comments are so regarded.

    4. Those saying all the perceived “offences” are neither reported nor recorded are probably right.

    5. Can any male envisage a non quiche eater rolling up to the police station to report verbal abuse as a violent offence?

    Get real.

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  17. GPT1 (2,123 comments) says:

    Andrew Little is an idiot who seems to have no concept of what the Justice System is about and simply waits until someone tells him something that he thinks he can put in to a PR to blame the government on.

    I suspect what he has picked up and complete misinterpreted (although why wouldn’t he given his PR is repeated with out derision by the MSM) is the use of Pre Charge Warnings. In my experience some police think these are over used and can conflate this with a drive to keep crime stats down.

    My impression is that there is a real pressure to keep the number of charges down partly to save money and partly to focus on more serious crime that is quite different from keeping the crime statistics down.

    In my view there is room for debate over the extent to which pre charge warnings are used. There are obvious situations where it is entirely appropriate such as breach of liquor ban, disorderly behaviour simpliciter, cannabis possession (in fact that is often a mere caution) – the catch and release scenario to prevent further issues.

    Based purely on anecdotes and discussions (I have not read the statistics) I do wonder if it is over used at times for moderately serious matters such as low end assaults. Yes there is a cost in processing and bringing to Court but if people are not called to account for “gateway” offending it undermines the system.

    Although I suspect such a debate is far to nuanced for Mr Little.

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  18. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “Why DO you keep a camera in your car?”

    You never know when a camera might come in handy. The thief did me a favour really, I bought a dashcam with the insurance payout. So if a poxy cop gives me shit in future he’ll be on Utube before he goes 10-zero..

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  19. Sporteone (52 comments) says:

    I am unsure what either party is trying to get across here, but there are definitely some mistruths going on.

    I was an Analyst in the Police for many, many, many years and the crime stats were always massaged to make them look better. Crime states were worked out on two bases. Reported Crime and crimes cleared. They are two different things.

    Reported Crime (Crime that the Police actually have a physical complaint will be down, because people are being asked to go into their local Police Station to report it. In a high percentages of cases these people never actually go in and report it.

    Cleared crime are offences that are actually solved or solved to the Polices belief. In many cases people are never charged with these offences, but admit to them and they are shown as a clearance. Police Officers sit down with an offender and get them to look through books to see if they recognise places or offences they have committed crimes in. Many crims, to of course help the Police will admit to offences that they would have no idea they ever committed. No property is ever recovered but it is cleared as offence solved. In some cases where a large number of offences are committed in a certain area, they may have one offender that has been caught and because it was within an area of a large number of crimes with similar MO etc, they will clear them all to the one offender, even though they are never charged.

    It is just a manipulation of numbers to the governments advantage and all governments do it.

    The biggest problem we have today is that a large number of crimes/offences are never reported because people just can’t be bothered going into a Police Station. The Police do nothing and just K6 it. Reported offence.

    Nothing has changed today. The figures are not a true representation of offences reported and or solved and of course David is right, offences the likes of Drug offences do not have a complainant, but an offence report is still completed and so it becomes a complaint. But one complaint can have numerous clearances and so the stats go up. One offence could have 10 clearances for a drug offence, just an example.

    I wouldn’t believe the figures coming out of Police HQ

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  20. NK (1,257 comments) says:

    This sort of behaviour wasn’t a one off either, my sister in law reported that a slow cooker had been stolen from her house while she was out and they checked her car for rego and stuff as well.

    When I was in the police I came across an assault victim in the street whom I spoke with. It turned out he had outstanding warrants to arrest and so I arrested him, even though he was a victim of an assault.

    It’s called good police work.

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  21. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “The biggest problem we have today is that a large number of crimes/offences are never reported because people just can’t be bothered going into a Police Station.”

    Maybe victims of crime don’t want to be abused and oppressed by arsehole cops?

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  22. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “When I was in the police I came across an assault victim in the street whom I spoke with. It turned out he had outstanding warrants to arrest and so I arrested him, even though he was a victim of an assault.

    It’s called good police work.”

    And I suppose you didn’t bother following up on the assault NK? Too busy patting yourself on the back for your “good police work.”

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  23. NK (1,257 comments) says:

    No. He decided not to lay a complaint. Unlike you, as you seem to spend your life complaining it seems.

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  24. RRM (10,034 comments) says:

    Kimble (4,326 comments) says:
    July 9th, 2014 at 11:10 am

    #stupidlabour

    #LIARbour ;-)

    I remember when I first started reading and commenting here, people said “Liarbour”quite a lot. That was in the days before hashtags.

    It seems like it would lend itself well to being a hashtag. maybe the time is right to start spreading and popularising#LIARbour?

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  25. Nostradamus (3,433 comments) says:

    RRM:

    Congratulations – your conversion to the dark side (or what we on the right call the enlightened side) is complete. Your membership badge is in the mail :)

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  26. Fentex (1,040 comments) says:

    It is basically impossible to reduce the crime rate by not charging people who have been reported as having committed an offence.

    To quote Stats NZ:

    All reports of incidents, whether from victims, witnesses, third parties, or discovered by police, and whether crime-related or not, will result in the registration of an incident report by police. The incident will be recorded as one or more offences if:

    the circumstances as reported amount to a crime defined by law, and

    there is no credible evidence to the contrary

    Whether or not someone is charged has no impact on whether the report is recorded as a crime.

    I don’t think that logically follows. If the police choose to decide that “the circumstances as reported amount to a crime defined by law” does not apply then the offence is not recorded, no one is charged.

    And that, if it were true, is a way a reduction in crime reporting and people being charged could be achieved by pressure applied to achieve targets.

    As long as someone has to make a decision to act, to record, the opportunity for the decision to be corrupted exists and pointing at definitions that merely establish where and when the decision is made do not reveal the reasoning and manner in which they are decided.

    I don’t know if any claim about the police reducing reporting and or charging to meet targets is true, but pointing at easily subverted rules does constitute evidence they aren’t. After all if everyone obeyed the rules we write down there’d be no crime at all, wouldn’t there?

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  27. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “No. He decided not to lay a complaint.”

    You refused to take his complaint more like!

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  28. Nookin (3,468 comments) says:

    For labour’s accusation to have any substance, there must have been a high-level directive from the government to the police. That directive must then have filtered down through the ranks. Logic suggests that any action to suppress the existence of a crime must start at the street level. In other words hundreds, possibly thousands of police officers must have been recipients of the “message” and must have acted on it. Yet, Labour cannot produce one single person who is prepared to break ranks and provide evidence.

    The situation is analogous to the theory that the moon landing took place inside a Hollywood studio. Not one of the cast of thousands is yet to break rank.

    Maybe it is time to apply Mr Little’s reversed burden of proof. Given that he is alleging bad faith and, effectively, corrupt practices, he should be told to front up with the actual evidence PDQ or be branded a liar.

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  29. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “Labour cannot produce one single person who is prepared to break ranks and provide evidence.”

    If you “break ranks” your police career is over.

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  30. rangitoto (251 comments) says:

    Officers leave the police force all the time so why would breaking ranks be a problem for them?

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  31. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “Officers leave the police force all the time so why would breaking ranks be a problem for them?”

    And be labelled a disgruntled loony to all and sundry, no wonder they stay mum.

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  32. MH (817 comments) says:

    They say zero tolerance,they say if caught young and set on the righteous path they will evade associating with crims or if placed in jail will only come out skilled in crime 101. They say had rapists been tracked earlier with their MO’s then they would have been locked up and many lives would not have been adversely affected. So we will report all crimes,it is called society,it is a duty. Then you need to follow up,not let the Police put it aside, a letter always helps to the Head Honcho or your MP. If you do nothing the crim wins, have you the time or inclination to vote is another question ? They are one and the same.

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  33. Manolo (14,080 comments) says:

    Listened to the charismatically-challenged Andrew Little on the radio. Unconvincing and relying on hearsay, the poor comrade was out of his depth during the interview.

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  34. Steve (North Shore) (4,591 comments) says:

    Andrew Little – Police reporting less crime just to make National look good.
    How stupid is this man? Proof Mr UNION MAN or fuck off with your silly whining

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  35. Fentex (1,040 comments) says:

    Today the Herald reports police manipulation of offences to minimise the apparent incidence of crime.

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