29 Jun 2022

Crime survey shows Māori, disabled, rainbow communities most at risk

10:11 am on 29 June 2022

About 1.2 million people in New Zealand experienced crime last year and people in a range of minority groups are more likely to be victimised.

Man's fist suggesting violence or crime

The report shows just over two percent of adults experienced 39 percent of all crime. Photo: 123RF

The Ministry of Justice's fourth New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey, which reveals trends in crimes, showed about 29 percent of adults were victimised once or more during 2021.

The proportion of victims did not change between 2020 and 2021.

Ministry of Justice general manager sector insights Anton Youngman said it was "really, really important" that on the other hand it meant 71 percent of adults did not experience crime during the year.

The report showed just over two percent of adults experienced 39 percent of all crime, with more Māori victimised than any other ethnic group.

Youngman said people were being victimised multiple times, "unfortunately" including Māori.

"There are a number of factors here that increase the risk of victimisation. So for example, young adults and those living in deprived areas have a higher risk of victimisation," he said.

Adults with disabilities were 55 percent more likely to be victimised than the average New Zealander, and half of non-heterosexual adults were victims of crime in 2021 compared to 29 percent of the average population.

The government's chief victim advisor, Kim McGregor, said crime trends could properly begin to be understood now the survey had been done four years consecutively.

Overall, she said the figures were a "huge concern" but the data would help show where support needed to be targeted.

McGregor said all victims services needed to be "absolutely tailored to the needs of those who are victimised".

It also needed to be easily accessible, with a focus on long-term support and prevention, she said.

"Once somebody has been victimised there's a high risk of revictimisation."

Rainbow communities findings 'really sad'

At 11 percent, non-heterosexual adults were sexually assaulted at a rate more than five times higher than national average.

InsideOUT is a charity connected with the Rainbow Violence Prevention Network.

Its managing director, Tabby Besley, said the figures relating to rainbow communities were "really sad" to see "but unfortunately not a surprise".

She said it might come as a shock to people unfamiliar with the rainbow community, partly because portrayals of violence in the public domain often have a "hetero/cis-normative lens".

"It's also reflective of general society, so when it comes to acceptance, inclusion and representation of our communities generally there's still so much discrimination."

Besley felt not enough was being done to improve crime towards and within the rainbow community and "a lot of people" were being revictimised.

She said people would often not report being a victim if they had previously had a "bad experience, or not been taken seriously, or not had support that was appropriate for them as a person from the rainbow community".

"Agencies really need to do a lot of work to change that reputation."

InsideOUT managing director Tabby Besley

There's still a lot of discrimination against members of rainbow communities, Tabby Besley says. Photo: Supplied / Aden Meser Photography

Youngman said it was unfortunate the survey was not able to dig into the people's perceptions of why they were victimised.

"But as part of Budget 2022 announcements there is some extra funding coming to look into this survey so we can do more research, and do more in-depth understanding, of why the specific communities - like the rainbow community - are being targeted and leading to this higher level of victimisation."

He said the survey information would be used to inform "all sorts of decisions across the justice sector" and his team would ensure "it's front and centre" when laws, policies and frontline initiatives were being designed.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs