14 May 2019

Almost half of crime experienced by 4 percent of New Zealanders

4:58 am on 14 May 2019

Four percent of the population are victims of almost half the crimes in New Zealand, the largest ever crime survey has found.

Police tape cording off the property at Taharoa.

The New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey found 2 percent of the population experience 40 percent of crimes. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The Ministry of Justice interviewed more than 8000 people in 2018 about the crime they had experienced in the past year.

The key findings of the New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey were first published in December last year, but the latest 148-page report provides a more comprehensive breakdown of the findings.

These show 29 percent of people were victims of crime, with 4 percent experiencing 47 per cent of the total 1.7 million offences. Two percent of New Zealanders suffered 40 percent of crime, while 71 percent experienced no crime.

The reasons some people experienced more crime varied, Ministry of Justice chief executive Andrew Kibblewhite said.

"There are some signposts in here, there are the issues around where discrimination might occur, there are issues around deprivation and you get more crime in areas of deprivation so that will narrow you down," Mr Kibblewhite said.

"There will be different reasons why a personal crime might be occurring again and again than why property crimes might be."

Crimes continued to be underreported, the survey found.

Of those who were victims of crime, 77 per cent did not report the offence to police.

"Perhaps they didn't perceive it was serious enough, perhaps it was a private matter, perhaps they didn't feel that they were going to get the result from it, particularly in the sexual violence case," Mr Kibblewhite said.

Many people did not even know a crime had been committed against them, Ministry of Justice manager of research and evaluation James Swindells said.

"They thought that whatever happened was just normal behaviour," Mr Swindells said.

Māori were more likely to be victims of crime than people of other ethnicities, and 20 to 29-year-olds where the most at-risk age group.

Men and women were equally likely to be victims of crime.

However, 71 percent of domestic and sexual violence victims were female.

Although 90 percent of family violence victims were aware of support organisations, only 23 percent contacted services, for reasons such as wanting to handle the situation themselves and preferring privacy.

The New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey is the first of three annual surveys, which will cost a total of $3.7 million.

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