CRIME IN NEW ZEALAND
[ A GRADUAL .DECREASE. In his address to the grand jury at the Supremo Court on the 30th tilt, the Chief Justice (Sir Robert Stout) gave an interesting review of the crime statistics of New Zealand. His remarks were as follows : I am glad that I am again able to congratulate your district on the absence of serious crime, and on the- few cases of crirno in your midst. When 1 met you in March I poiuted out that crime in Now Zealand was gradually decreasing relatively to our population, which is increasing, and that there was especially no increase in juvenile crime. 1 am able, to say that the remarks that 1 made in March can be repeated. 1 mention tho matter again because T lind that some of our citizens keep on repeating that crime is increasing amongst us. It is a pity tlint they do not take the trouble to read the. official papers that contain the stali»tiVs of our criminals. Crime fluctuates from year to year, but if we take a scries of years, and examine the figures, we will find good ground for congratulation on the decrease of crime. You are no doubt aware that many in our community, do not seem to know that there rre three reports published annually by the Government which give accurate details of our crime and our criminals—namely, the reports of the Prisons Department, of the Police Department, and of the Government Statistician. If you examine the report for the year 1913 of the Under-Secretary of Justice on our prisons you will find at page 2 a copy of the report of the Inspector of Prisons. It contains a table showing the number of prisoners actually in prison on Dcopmber 31 every fifth year, beginning in 1881 and ending in 1911: aKo the numbers in 1012 and 1913. I shall quote the figure of the number per JO.OOO of our population. Titev are : 1881" 13.77 1886 10.60 1891 8.42 18% 7.70 1901 9.05 1906 9.80 1911 8.51 1912 8.22 1913 8.47 Wi' also tiud in this report the figures referring to prions crime. Tho Inspector of Prisons' report says; The decrease in the number of serious crimes as evidenced by (he length of the sentences imposed, which Mas remarked upon in last year's report, still continues. He gives the following figures, amongst others:- -The total number of prisoners received in gaol bavin" sentences of three mouths or over was. in 1906 1.132 1907 1.123 19C8 ... ' 1.085 1903 1.152 1910 395 1011 785 1912 652 1915 711 If we were to take the number at per 10.000 of on- population, the number would be in 1906 12.67 1915 6.55 or a. fall within seven vears of nearlv onehalf. There has been an increase in prisoners found guilty of minor offences. The figures are : 1911 3.116 1912 5,5)5 19J3 3.555 Tlii- would lie. at the rate per 10,000, 1911 50.58 1912 31.49 1915 ■•' 32.7/ Another lest is th:- number of distinct primers (some are received more than on<v in a year) received into gaol per year. Tin? numbers will found in the Government Statistician's report on Law end Cr'mo. The figures ,-ir-e : 19C9 3.159 1010 3.242 1911 2.877 1012 3 025 1913 3.229 If we take the first and last of these five years according to population--that is. the numbers per 10,000 of our people—the figures would be : 1909 52.50 1915 30.20 In juvenile crime, taking all prisoners sent to gaol, whether more than once in the year or not, under 20 years of age, there has been a decrease during tiie last, .war. in 1912 the number of males was 124, in 1915 109. In 1912 the number of females was 5, and in 1913 10. If tho rate per IO.OCO were taken the fall would seem to be greater than the numbers quoted show. I may now refer to the third report, Cut of tho Commissioner of Police. J have hitherto dealt only with persons seruoneod to imprisonment, but that is no: always the test of the criminality of the Sfate or a district. It may be! tint ihe- poiice are ineffective, or "that magistrates do not punish when they j should, or that juries sometimes acquit i when they should find «i. verdict of guilty, j 1 have therefor.' taken another test. It'isj what crime has been reported to the j police. The Commissioner of Police in his last annual renort. dated June 25, 1914. savs :
The criminal statistics (Appendix A) deal with all offences reported to the police diirini; the year ended December 51 last, and show an aj-grejjatc decrease, of 566 on the figures of 1912. The proportion of offences to the popu-' latioi! was 2.24 nor cent., against 2.55 the previous year. Of serious crimes reported the number of cases was iu ]9!'2. 617: in 1915. 614. There i« this not'' in the report : During the last 10 years the number of serious crimes as above described— Unit is, nrson. .iwwnult and robbery, bnru'.ary, breaking into shops, dwellings, etc.. forgery and tittoritig. murder, murder attempted, rape., receiving stolen properly, tdieo'.int; with intent—has vari(>d from 520 to 759. the nre.*ent total. 614. being .slightly he low the average. If. however, the asvra-e per 10..CC0 of the population wore taken the decrease would not he so slight. Tl?e average •'iveu was on the assumption that t lie population had not increased. There was during the l.:st year, unfortunately, an increase in indecent and sexual offences, mainly in indecent assaults, where the increase was 56- 1 have referred you to three, official reports. If ihey are carefully coniudoied yen will see that, whatever else is happening i:i JS'-ew Zealand, ciinr' i.s not increasing, and for this we .should take much comfort, for if there is no regard for human life, and no repnrd for th-e rights of others, and no regard for human liberty in any nation, that nation i« on th<- down pr.ide.
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CRIME IN NEW ZEALAND, Evening Star, Issue 15667, 4 December 1914