1.3.3 Uncertainty about crime rates

A further caution must be raised about crime statistics. From surveys of victims of crime it is known that reporting rates are relatively low for some types of crimes. The New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey 2006 found that just one third of the offences experienced by survey respondents in 2005 were made known to the Police 1, with rates varying from 84% for vehicle theft, to 9% for sexual offences 2. Reporting rates for Māori and European were very similar (31% and 32% respectively for all crimes) 3, although Māori were more likely to have been victims of crime – 47% of Māori compared to 37% of European had been victims of crime during 2005 4. Pacific peoples’ reporting rates were slightly lower – 27%, and Asian rates 30%. Rates varied for types of crime – reporting rates were lowest for violence and threats – for this category, Māori were most likely to have reported being a victim of a crime (29% of incidents) compared to 26% of incidents experienced by Europeans, 22% of Pacific peoples, and only 13% of Asians. Studies involving individuals being asked about their own criminal activity confirm that a great many crimes are never detected or linked to a perpetrator 5. As with ethnic data, any analysis must allow for uncertainty as to actual crime rates underlying reported rates. It is also important to be specific as to what is being discussed at a given point – whether it is self-reported crime, crime known to official agencies, or crime that has been confirmed by a conviction.

1 An example of compelling personal descriptions of the dynamics of why violence might not be reported is found in Glover, M. (1993) Maori Women's Experience of Male Partner Violence: Seven Case Studies. Master of Social Science Thesis, University of Waikato. Case studies of seven women – all Maori, who had experienced substantial domestic violence. Ethnicity of the partners – 5 Pakeha, 3 Maori, 1 Tongan.

2 New Zealand Crime & Safety Survey 2006 (CASS), Ministry of Justice; p35.

3 CASS op cit, p113.

4 CASS op cit, p106 Maori women were most likely to have been crime victims - 51% compared to 43% of Maori men; the rates for European were 36% for women, and 38% for men.

5 Fergusson, D (1993a) self and parental reported criminal behaviour (2003a) self reported Cannabis use.