Weekend Revelations #3 – Greg O’Connor and criminal statistics
On TVNZ’s Q+A, on 25 October, Michael Parkin interviewed outgoing Police Association President, Greg O’Conner.
In a rare moment of candid speaking, O’Conner had some eyebrow-raising revelations to make about National’s portrayal of crime statistics and budgetary decisions.
On statistics, Parkin referred to National and Police trumpeting a 30% drop in crime. O’Conner responded wryly;
“Well, it’s uh, lies, damned lies, and statistics. If you look at the crime stats, um, which is those recorded stats, you’ll say the government and police administration are right. If you look at the stats around calls for service, they’re the phone calls that police receive in communications centes, etc, and just an example, family violence, domestic disputes; up by 10% a year pretty much, and across the board, 20% increase. So it’s the calls for service, to the extent that the communications centres couldn’t manage last summer. There’s a fear, and we’re obviously we’re trying to make sure it doesn’t happen this year. So the two are going in completely different directions.”
Parkin pointedly asked if the statistics are being manipulated. O’Conner’s response was startling in it’s honesty;
“Of course they are. Every government department – I mean, what happens is that, the stats themselves are fair, but I mean I see it as a debate [like] about health, y’know, medical – the waiting lists have going down, but people get kicked of waiting lists and so it’s, you achieve – Put it this way, with crime stats, what we’ve set out to do is the way to cut crime stats is to hit your bulk crime. So if you have any success there, of course, that’s going to be big numbers down. And what you ignore is your small numbers. You ignore, in fact, interestingly enough you ignore drugs. You ignore a lot of your serious stuff that you only find if you go looking. And in the past that’s got us into real trouble. Got us into trouble with the child abuse files, in particular, and you remember, that they were put aside. Because they weren’t politically known. They were business as usual. All of a sudden we were concentrating on the crime and crash reduction, um, and we ignored that stuff. And so you’ve got to be careful. And this is where the politicisation of policing is really dangerous. It’s not done by the Minister saying ‘you gotta do this and you gotta do that’, it’s done by funding.”
O’Conner’s scorn is confirmed by an event last year where one police district was caught out, red-handed, falsifying crime statistics. Seven hundred burglary offences “disappeared”;
Herald journalist, Eugene Bingham, reported;
” It transpired others knew about the allegations around the same time, including the local MP and then-Minister of Justice, Judith Collins.”
A police report “raised questions over pressures to meet crime reduction targets”, but Police were quick to assure that the fudged stats were “isolated“;
National is in fear of statistics that show their policies are either not making any appreciable difference or, are worsening problems. A prime example is Paula Bennett’s adamant refusal to measure poverty in New Zealand;
Any claims to “reducing crime” should therefore be viewed with extreme scepticism in the light of Greg O’Connor’s disclosures on fudged crime statistics which confirm National’s active policy of discretely hiding statistics it finds embarrassing. Or not measuring them at all.
Interestingly, O’Conner’s comments on National’s policing budget is also true.
Firstly, “Vote Police” is broken down into several sections, where monies are allocated to different areas. This allows plenty of scope for political manipulation as to where money will be put.
On top of which, using the Reserve Bank inflation calculator, it is fairly simple to determine that the Police budget has not kept pace with inflation.
Research going back to 2008 shows that Vote Police has dropped in dollar-terms (using 2008 Dollars as the base), and in 2015/16, the Police will be allocated $1.422 billion (in 2008 dollars) – compared to the $1.445 billion in 2008.
‘Vote Police’ – Budgets 2008-2015 – Total Annual and Permanent Appropriations
* Using Reserve Bank NZ Inflation Adjuster from Budget Month/Year Q2 dollars into 2008 Q2 dollars. (http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/monetary_policy/inflation_calculator/)
(Field parameters above: calculating 2015 budgetted $1,609,173 into 2008 dollars.)
Inflation, coupled with a National government, have not been kind to our Police.
National is far from being the “Law and Order” party it makes out to be. Any “success” it claims to have achieved, has been done with smoke, mirrors, and falsified reporting of statistics.
The question is; do burglars know they are supposed to be committing 30% less break-ins to peoples’ homes? Let’s hope they got the memo from the Minister’s office.
TVNZ: Q+A – Police Association president steps down
NZ Herald: Police made burglaries vanish
NZ Herald: Two-year search for ‘ghost crimes’ truth
Treasury: Budget 2008
Treasury: Budget 2014
Treasury: Budget 2015
Previous related blogposts
The Daily Blog: National’s ghost crime stats
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 30 October 2015.
= fs =
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