Truth in Crime Stats

The Government spin line on law & order is that it is not an issue, nothing to worry about, because the crime rate has gone down under Labour.

This is sort of true, but what they and the media never point out is that it is a meaningless statistic. The total crime rate means almost nothing because it counts every murder or rape as equal to every under age drinking conviction. One could have a 50% increase in violent crimes and and a mere 8% decrease in dishonesty offences, and this would make the total crime rate go down.

As an example in 2,000 the numebr of sale of liquor offences dropped by 3,000 yet the number of violent crimes went up by 2,000, and Labour trumpet this as successfully lowering the crime rate.

So to talk intelligently on the subject, one needs to look at the breakdown. One can do this by individual offence category or by major groupings of violence, sexual, drugs, dishonesty, property and administrative.

Now almost everyone would agree violent crimes (murders, assaults, armed robberies) and sexual crimes (rapes, sexual assaults) are what most people want to see a lot less of.

Well in the last year of National violent crimes dropped by 2%. Since 1999 they have increased by 15%. Annual increases of 5%, 6%, 2% and 2%.

And sexual crimes dropped in 1999 by 8%. Then increased by 7% since 1999.

Also even if one does count the total number of crimes (as meaningless as that is), they dropped by 5% in 1999 and have gone up by 1% since 1999.

This is why you hear the Government refer to the total crime rate which is number of crimes per 10,000 population. Now it can be useful to use a population adjustment, but I would suggest a better measurement is the crime rate per 10,000 persons aged from 12 to 60 which covers almost all criminal offending. This segment has grown less than the overall population.

But even if one does use the meaningless total crime rate, let’s look at the trends. Was going down under National – dropped 5.6% in 1999. This slowed to 2.9% in 2000 and 1.1% in 2001. And then up in 2002 by 1.6% and down again by 1.2% in 2003. So a strong downwards trend has slowed and then basically stalled.

But they key thing is the overall crime numbers or rates are almost meaningless. The more serious violent and sexual crimes have increased both in absolute numbers and proportional to population, since 1999.

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