3 May 2017

Govt softens target for reducing violent crime

7:05 pm on 3 May 2017

The government hopes to reduce the number of serious crime victims by 2021, and has set itself a new target to do so, after missing its previous target.

It denied it was manipulating the numbers to make its better public service targets easier to reach.

Close up of the back of a police officer wearing a vest.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Prime Minister Bill English today outlined a new set of 10 targets for the delivery of public services, including reducing the number of serious crime victims by 10,000 by 2021.

It is a much-reduced target than what was initially set five years ago.

In 2012, the government set an aim of reducing violent crime by 20 percent, or 7500 fewer crimes a year, by June 2017.

As at March of this year, that measure had only reduced by 2 percent.

The government's new goal is more realistic: to reduce the number of serious crime victims by about 2000 a year.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said it was not an admission the old target was unobtainable.

"Ten thousand is a much more tangible number for New Zealanders to get their head around than 20 percent. Most New Zealanders don't have a sense of what that looks like.

"We've been very clear we want to have 10,000 fewer victimisations of these sorts of crimes."

But Labour leader Andrew Little said the government was fiddling with the numbers to suit.

"That's what happens when you govern and manage by numbers... you don't deal with actual problems."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the government was being disingenuous, as it had earlier capped police spending and did not believe that crime was rising.

Ms Adams said the change in target was deliberate.

She said, previously, the violent crime statistics had picked up a big increase in the reporting of family violence, which skewed the results.

"While we're trying to encourage more reporting, it somewhat cuts against a straight target."

Ms Adams said it would still be a stretch for the government to meet the new target - but it was committed to doing so.