New Zealand Law Society - Crime survey reveals low levels of reporting of sexual violence

Crime survey reveals low levels of reporting of sexual violence

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New figures from the second New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey (NZCVS) show a very low level reporting of sexual violence which Sector Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Justice Tim Hampton says is very worrying.

The report shows that 94% of sexual assaults are not reported to the Police – a direct contrast to the 94% of reporting of vehicle theft.

“The levels of crime being experienced, and the number of victims is nothing for New Zealand to be proud of. The sexual violence data in this report reinforces a lot of what we already know about victims and the level of non-reporting to Police.

“For comparison’s sake, 94% of sexual assaults weren’t reported to Police, when 94% of motor vehicle theft was reported.

“Our hope is this data continues to prove valuable in guiding policy decisions and practice to improve the lives of the most at-risk of victimisation in our society.”

The survey shows 29% of New Zealand adults experienced intimate partner violence, or sexual violence, at some point in their life, with women three times more likely to experience sexual violence than men.

The 2019 report has also found instances of crime were largely experienced at similar levels to the 2018 report.

Identifying the most at-risk communities

The report also found a clear link between victimisation and socio-economic conditions.

“There is a higher level of victimisation for those under financial pressure, living in more deprived areas, unemployed and not actively seeking employment, and those in single parent households,” Mr Hampton says.

“These findings help us identify likely victims of crime in New Zealand. Given this report is the culmination of two years’ worth of interviews – that’s 16,000 respondents – we can identify those communities who are most at-risk of victimisation. This is particularly important now given the number of people that are experiencing reduction in their income or losing their jobs completely because of COVID-19.

“Along with the socio-economic deprivation, victims are most likely to be aged between 19-29, Māori, never married, have moderate-to-high levels of psychological distress, lower life satisfaction ratings and lower feelings of safety.”

Other key findings from the latest Crime and Victims Survey report show that in the last 12 months:

* Over 250,000 incidents of offences by family members towards other family members occurred, in which almost half (47%) of offenders were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

* Over 320,000 people experienced one or more incidents of cybercrime or fraud.

* Overall, 25% of all crime incidents were reported to Police.

* The most common reason for not reporting to Police were “too trivial/no loss or damage/not worth reporting” (48%). The second most common reason was “Police couldn’t have done anything” (27%).

* Vehicle offences were the most common one-off incidents of crime.

The NZCVS is New Zealand’s largest and most comprehensive survey of crime, interviewing 8,000 people over the age of 15 each year about their experiences of crime in the previous 12 months. The NZCVS also captures unreported crime.

The survey was undertaken prior to the COVID-19 lockdown. A justice-related survey conducted during Alert Level 4 found that New Zealanders appear to have been less worried about being a victim of crime than before the lockdown.

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