22 Feb 2018

'Some of those crimes are committed for notoriety'

8:19 pm on 22 February 2018

A spike in the number of young women committing crimes could be fuelled by a desire for social media notoriety, the Police Commissioner says.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush

Police Commissioner Mike Bush Photo: RNZ

Mike Bush told MPs at Parliament today that young women in particular are increasingly involved in serious crimes such as aggravated robberies and it was a top concern for police.

Mr Bush said police wanted to understand what was driving the offending but he believed social media could be part of it.

"I wish I knew (what's behind it) it is a concern that in a number of crime areas whether it's in aggravated robberies or the theft of cars and car chases that there are more women represented - we'd be keen to understand what's behind that.

"One of the things that does concern me about crime is some of the motivation is actually about people getting notoriety," the commissioner said.

Mr Bush said while there were probably several factors driving behind the spike - young people were quick to post evidence of their crimes on social media.

"My people get a sense that some of those crimes are committed for notoriety, you will find that they upload things...to Facebook.

"So my concern is that some of these crimes are driven by wanting a few minutes of fame."

'It is nothing to do with social media'

But the director of criminal justice reform lobby group JustSpeak, Tania Sawicki Mead, thought Mr Bush's comments were reckless.

"It's really dangerous to offer up explanations for really serious trends without having done your research.

"We know that, particularly for women who end up in prison, the most likely driving factors are violence in their own families, drug and alcohol abuse issues...all the evidence we have to date suggests it is nothing to do with social media."

National's police spokesperson Chris Bishop wanted police to take a good look at why young women were offending more.

"I don't pretend to have any of the answers myself - it's just an interesting observation from the Police Commissioner that we seem to be seeing an increase in the number of young women committing crimes, it's certainly worthy of further work and further study."

Corrections figures show the female prisoner population rose from 700 to 800 during 2017.