Quick Facts: The Sources Behind the Statistics
Young New Zealanders are more likely to be victims of crime than any other age group. They are also more likely to be victims of multiple crimes. Young Māori are particularly at risk.
This information comes from the New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey: 2009. You can download a copy here.
Criminal behaviour tends to peak in the mid/late teens and early twenties. Most people ‘age out’ of crime.
The most graphic display of this comes from the Department of Corrections Offender Volumes Report 2009.
In the Prison Sentenced Throughput section of this report, we can see how old people are when they arrive at prison. Taking into account that people are under a separate criminal justice system until they turn 17, we can see that most of the people we send to prison are young and there is an obvious downward trend as people get older.
Only about a third of all crimes are reported. While lots of young people will commit a crime at some stage in their lives not all of them will come to the attention of the Police.
The reporting information comes from the New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey: 2009.
The information about lots of young people committing crimes comes from a range of sources. The best New Zealand based evidence we know of comes from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. This study has been going on for a long time now but when the participants were around 18 years old, they were asked whether they had committed any offences at some stage in their lives. These are the results.
We got this table from page 359 of this book.
Full citation: Junger-Tas, J., Terlouw, G. & Klein, M. (1994). Delinquent Behaviour Among Young People in the Western World. Amsterdam: Kugler.
Those who do come to the attention of the Police, are much more likely to be Māori
Māori children’s apprehension rate is more than five times that of Pacific or NZ European children.
Māori youth’s apprehension rate is more than three times that of Pacific or NZ European youth.
This comes from a Ministry of Justice publication called Child and Youth Offending Statistics in New Zealand: 1992 to 2008.
You can also find more about Maori over-representation in offending statistics on our webpage on Maori and the Criminal Justice System.
Young people are over-represented in official offending statistics.
60% of the people on community sentences are aged between 15 and 30
42% are between the ages of 17 and 25
55% of the people we imprison are aged between 15 and 30
39% are between the ages of 17 and 25
Again, this information comes from the Department of Corrections Offender Volumes Report 2009.
Whether they’re serving a community based or prison sentence, the younger the person, the higher the recidivism rate.
We got this information from the Recidivism Index in the Department of Corrections Annual Report 09/10
The evidence tells us that whenever possible, young people need to be kept out of the formal justice system. New Zealand’s Youth Justice System is based on this principle.
Almost 80% of young people apprehended by the Police will be given some form of diversion.
Almost 50% of all Family Group Conferences do not result in Court proceedings
This report highlights how formal processing of young people does not tend to do us any favours.
If you want to learn more about the principles of the New Zealand Youth Justice System, we talk about it in more detail here.
The statistics listed come from this report.
A very small group of persistent young offenders are responsible for around half all of crimes committed by young people.
This comes from Judge Andrew Becroft.
Full citation: Becroft, A, Youth Offending: Introductory Notes, IPS Criminal Justice Forum, Wellington, February 2009.