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Crime and Safety

New Zealand - Crime and Safety

Each year the Ministry of Justice carries out a crime survey regularly to provide information on the state of crime in the country. In recent years the surveys have not changed a great deal, showing that crime levels are not worsening at all. The survey held in 2009 showed that it is estimated that only 32% of crime is actually reported to the police and the vast majority of crimes – all considered to be minor – are not reported as some victims are unaware that a crime has been committed. Some considered that if they reported a minor crime to the police that they would not be able to pursue a conviction. Others kept the incidents secret if they considered it to be a private issue.

Crime is also uneven across the country and large areas experience very little crime. More than half of all crime in the country is confined to around 6% of the population. More than 60% of people are not subjected to any crime at all. The survey also shows that those who are more likely to experience crime are those who are younger or part of an ethnic minority. Those who live in poorer areas are also likely to experience crime. Those who are retired, of European origin and living in more affluent districts are least likely to be victims of crime.

Around two-thirds of people feel safe in their neighbourhoods and a similar number believe that there is little or no crime in their area. There has been a drop in domestic violence, sexual crimes and threatening behaviour. There are also fewer car thefts and thefts of property from vehicles although these rates have not dropped a great deal.

When compared to other countries the crime rates in New Zealand are very low. Auckland has the highest crime rate but this is still much lower than cities such as London and New York. Violent crime is rare but does occur.

The most frequent crime in the country is theft and this occurs mainly in the cities although less urbanised areas are not immune. Theft from cars ranks the highest with home burglaries and pickpocketing also on the list. Tourist areas are likely to see more instances of theft although violent crime against tourists is very rare.

Drinking and crime are being linked in some city areas such as Queenstown and Wellington. Wellington has taken the step of banning the consumption of alcohol in some public areas. There are some areas in Auckland where visitors are advised to avoid at night due to the large numbers of people drinking in the area. Fighting among drunken young people is common.

In order to ensure personal safety, newcomers to New Zealand are advised to remain alert by not leaving valuables on display in cars and by avoiding areas where there may be problems. If you are the victim of crime while you are in New Zealand you can contact the emergency services on 111. Your embassy should be the first port of call if you have any documentation such as a passport stolen. The embassy can also help you to navigate the New Zealand legal system and find a lawyer if you should need one.

Victims of crime in New Zealand also have the opportunity to seek support. An organisation called Victim Support is in operation, working both with the police and on an independent basis. The service is operated by a few paid staff and a large team of volunteers. Those who need help do not have to pay for the service and can even access funds if there is difficulty in meeting the costs of dealing with the aftermath of a crime, such as the cost of counselling or attending court hearings.

The New Zealand police force operates more than 400 police stations across the country and deals on average with 600,000 emergency calls every year. The police work with local communities to prevent crime as well as investigating. At this time, New Zealand police officers are not armed generally, but there are armed units in operation when needed. The debate is ongoing about arming beat officers.

Useful Resources

Victim Support
Tel: 0800 842 846
Email: help@victimsupport.org.nz

Read more about this country

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