Saturday, February 20, 2016

Kim Workman on the 'low' murder rate

Kim Workman kindly sent me a graph which depicts murder rates in New Zealand extending back even further than mine. I've included his commentary below it.

Hi Lindsay



You might like to post the attached graph on your blog – it shows the murder rate from 1879 through to 2010 – it was prepared by the Ministry of Justice. 



What it shows is that there was a very high rate from 1880 to 1890 – New Zealand was a very ‘atomised’ society, high numbers of single men, high levels of vagrancy, itinerant workers significant drinking culture.  A significant downward trend to around 1905, and then it was all over the place until 1950 when there was a significant rise until 1990, when it started to decline, and has been declining ever since. Well over half the murders today are within the family, or people that are in a relationship.  About 1 to 1.5 murders a year are random killings of people who are unknown to the murderer. 



There is no evidence that I know of, which shows that ethnicity is a factor – but a lot of evidence which points to general social dysfunction.   The latest NZ Crime and Safety Survey, (which is the only statistical survey that’s reliable , given the propensity of government agencies to play around with stats) shows that  3 percent of the population experienced more than half of all crime in 2013, - a greater concentration of crime than in 2008 when six percent of the population experienced 52 percent of all crime.  In other words there is a small group of chronic victims, living in marginalised communities.   And the distribution of victimisation is becoming more unequal over time. 

14 comments:

Redbaiter said...

Fine, but the murder rate while important is not really the issue here.

Its a crime that is somewhat apart from other crimes and I think it always follows a different pattern to normal crime.

If you look at the green line on this graph, you'll see what I'm talking about when I say the line preceding the sixties is pretty level.

http://blog.rethinking.org.nz/2014/07/seven-sharp-and-penal-policy-lets-do.html

If this graph is accurate, it drives the question we need to ask ourselves.

What was the critical difference between the society of 1870-1960 where crime rates were stable, and the society after 1960 where crime accelerated?

Answer that and you have a big part of the solution to high crime.

Anonymous said...

Welfare

but you knew that already

Redbaiter said...

BTW, out of interest just did the calculation on average murder rate for the periods discussed, using the excel file the above graph is based on.

The rate from 1960 onwards is going on to almost twice the rate of the previous period.

1879-1959 average 0.71

1960 2010 average 1.18

As I said, murder rates are not that significant, but still, its useful to know the averages.

Kim Workman said...


Dear Redbaiter

The difficulty with that proposition is that crime has been declining since 1990 and is continuing to decline.

Redbaiter said...

"The difficulty with that proposition is that crime has been declining since 1990 and is continuing to decline. "

If that is so, then why?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

To avoid confusion, KW is responding to Redbaiter's first comment.

Kim Workman said...

Anonymous Redbaiter said...
"The difficulty with that proposition is that crime has been declining since 1990 and is continuing to decline. "

If that is so, then why?

I can’t do justice to this important question in a blog, and I certainly don’t have all the answers. In 2014, the then Minister of Justice, Hon Judith Collins brought an internationally known criminologist to New Zealand in 2014, Professor Gloria Laycock, who made it clear that that the declining crime rate was an international phenomena, and something that politicians could not take credit for. The plummeting crime rate is an international trend, and due more to science and technology than political strategy. Technology such as home security systems and central locking systems in cars has fuelled a drop in youth crime.

Rethinking put out a blog on this issue, “It’s Not All Smoke and Mirrors” at
http://www.rethinking.org.nz/assets/Newsletter_PDF/Issue_113/01_The_Crime_Rate.pdf
and an epublication in its ‘Smart on Crime’ Series http://www.rethinking.org.nz/assets/Publications/RTC-Monograph-Issue-1_WEB.pdf discusses some of the reasons.

Just one point. Recent demographic changes have impacted significantly on the crime rate. Young people aged 15 – 24 years commit the most crime. The number of people in this age group at any one time has a key influence on the crime rate. The more there are, the higher the crime rate.

Following World War II, the rise of the Baby Boomer generation dramatically increased the number of young people in this crime-prone age group. As this Baby Boomer cohort has aged, so the number of young people in the 15 to 24 year old age group sometimes called the “Echo Boomers” has reduced – and with it crime.

In 1971, young people in the 15 to 24 age group made up 17.3 percent of the general population. By 2006, the number had fallen to 14.4 percent - a 20 percent decrease. The proportion of Māori in that 15 to 24 age group, which was 8.5 percent in 1971, has more than doubled to 19.2 percent in 2006 – certainly a factor contributing to the high Māori offending rate.3

The number of 15 – 24 year olds is expected to plateau by 2013, and then decline until 2023. It follows that even if the government stood by and watched, the youth crime rate was going to fall.

David Garrett said...

You're such a bullshitter Kim...you even manage to use genuine stats to make your (spurious) points!

The murder rate in the 20th century is only "all over the place" when you use a scale such as per million of population, which is the graph shown. The more commonly acceptable rates - per 100,000 or per 10,000 show a very different story - as you well know.

For those taken in, the homicide rate for the period from about 1910 to the mid 70's averaged 0.5 per 100,000 of population per year. From the mid 70's there was an exponential increase in the homicide rate to about 2.0 per 100,000 per annum - higher than that in some parts of the country - peaking, as Workman says, in the mid 1990's. In other words a 400% increase from the 1950's to the 90's.

As for "no evidence that you know of" of ethnicity being a factor, you are conveniently ignoring Newbold's controversial work on this subject. In short, Newbold claims that if you remove Maori from the violent crime stats, the violent crime rate reduces to that last seen in the 1950's. Horribly un PC and very inconvenient, but apparently true nevertheless. Why that should be, who knows? No doubt you have a theory on it...could it be the racist justice system that forces them to do it?

Anonymous said...

If you are looking at the murder rate, a reasonable theory for the decrease after 1990 is the improvement in emergency medical technology. Given the majority of our murders are assaults that have progressed to murder if the victim doesn't survive.

Paranormal

David Garrett said...

I should of course have added the obvious - put the omission down to my shock at seeing Kim still up to his old tricks.

While the homicide rate has indeed declined since the 1990's, that is no cause for celebration. It is still about twice what it averaged in the period 1920 -70. We still have a long long way to go to reach the halcyon days of the 1950's.

Oh and the source for my claims re the relatively constant (low) homicide rate during that period is Miller, "Homicide in New Zealand 1988-94", a paper presented to the 1996 conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology. I helpfully reproduced Miller's graph at page 22 of my 1999 book "A case for Capital punishment", Hazard Press, 1999.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Hi David, Don't normally see you here.

"The murder rate in the 20th century is only "all over the place" when you use a scale such as per million of population, which is the graph shown. The more commonly acceptable rates - per 100,000 or per 10,000 show a very different story - as you well know."

It shouldn't matter whether the scale is per 1 million, 100,000 or 10,000. The shape of the graph should remain the same.

Redbaiter said...

Actually, Kim's claims re the number of people in high crime age group could be quite easily tested/ illustrated by means of a graph showing number of people within that age group laid over the crime rate.

If his claim is correct, the lines should be more or less parallel.

Kim Workman said...

Anonymous Redbaiter said...
Actually, Kim's claims re the number of people in high crime age group could be quite easily tested/ illustrated by means of a graph showing number of people within that age group laid over the crime rate.

If his claim is correct, the lines should be more or less parallel.

Redbaiter, my contribution was never a 'claim'; I made it clear at the outset that it was 'just one point'. It's a complex issue, and there is no single solution, nor a single cause.

What concerns me is that in this conversation, and the preceding blog, no one picked up on the key issue, that I mentioned in the earlier blog; 3 per cent of the population experienced more than half of all crime in 2013, - a greater concentration of crime than in 2008 when six per cent of the population experienced 52 per cent of all crime. In other words there is a small group of chronic victims, living in marginalised communities. And the distribution of victimisation is becoming more unequal over time. The NZ Crime and Safety Survey went on to say that Maori, 20- to 29-year-olds, and those living in the most deprived areas of New Zealand were among those most likely to experience five or more offences.

In 2009, the then CEO of Victim Support, Tony Paine, in commenting on the earlier (2008) Crime and Safety Survey, put it this way:

“It is very easy to talk about victims and offenders as if they were two quite separate groups (both demographically and morally). Of course the world is not that black and white. The NZ Crime an Safety Survey tells us that 50% of all victimizations are experienced by only 6% of New Zealanders and that the social and demographic indicators that identify those who are most likely to be victimized are identical to the markers for those likely to be offenders. The life stories and cultural contexts that weave victims and offenders together (often within the same person) make any artificial separation between offenders and victims just that: an artifice that oversimplifies our complex world.”

In the US, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency report that the single greatest predictor of youth offending is prior victimisation - if this is true then thousands of New Zealanders are transformed annually from child victims into young offenders.

If people accept what Tony Paine said as true, it puzzles me that the Sensible Sentencing Trust refuse to support victims who belong to 'crime families'. Oh well, that's over half the victims in New Zealand they don't have to deal with.

JC said...

Another point to factor in is the proportionally largest and fastest diaspora of Maori after ww2 to the 1960s from rural to city.

Thats a massive cultural dislocation in itself plus the boom and bust cycles that left them vulnerable to unemployment particularly from the 1960s to the 90s.

So yes, welfare comes into the picture with sometimes three generations living in one house and inevitably "crime families".. the cops occasionally have a whinge along the lines of "most crime in this area is committed by 5 families".

Another thing is when you have a young society with a median age in the low to mid twenties the attitude to "youthful indiscretion" is different from an older society with a median age nearing 40.. these days we want a quiet life and instead of giving the neighbour's kid a boot in the arse we call the cops.

JC