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Criminal victimisation


The proportion of the population aged 15 years and over who had been victims of one or more incidents of criminal offending in 2005 as measured by the New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey 2006.


The criminal victimisation rate provides a broad measure of personal safety and wellbeing. Surveys of criminal victimisation generally provide a more comprehensive picture of victimisation than police data, as not all offending is reported to or recorded by the police.

Current level and trends

The survey data shows 39 percent of New Zealand adults aged 15 years and over experienced some form of criminal victimisation in 2005. Comparisons with data from earlier surveys are not possible owing to changes in the survey design.85

Thirty percent of households had been victims of some kind of household crime in 2005. The most common offences were burglaries (14 percent) and vandalism to household property (9 percent). Over the same period, 18 percent of individuals had been victims of some type of personal offence, the most common being assaults and threats (both 9 percent). A relatively small number of people accounted for the majority of victimisations: just 6 percent of people had been victimised five or more times during the survey period but they experienced 51 percent of all victimisations.

Figure SS2.1 Criminal victimisation prevalence rate, by type of victimisation, 2005

Figure SS2.1	Criminal victimisation prevalence rate, by type of victimisation, 2005

Source: Mayhew and Reilly (2007) Table 3.1

Age and sex differences

Young adults are more likely than others to be victims of crime, and the likelihood of being victimised decreases with age. Among people in the 15–24 years age group, 55 percent were victims of either personal or household offences in 2005. This compares with 46 percent of 25–39 year olds, 37 percent of 40–59 year olds and 20 percent of those aged 60 years and over. Young adults aged 15–24 years also had the highest rates of victimisation for confrontational offences: 13 percent were victims of confrontational offences committed by partners, 10 percent were victimised by people who were well known to them, and 16 percent by other offenders.

The overall rate of victimisation did not vary by sex, with 39 percent of both men and women experiencing some form of criminal victimisation in 2005. The pattern of victimisation by age was also similar for both sexes. With confrontational offences, men were as likely as women to have been victimised at least once by a partner (6 percent compared with 7 percent for women). However, women experienced more offences than men did (26 incidents per 100 women, compared with 18 incidents per 100 men).86 Prevalence rates did not differ by sex for offences committed by people well known to the victim (5 percent for both men and women), but men were more likely than women to be victims of confrontational offences by people who were not known to them (9 percent compared with 6 percent).

Women were around twice as likely as men to be the victims of sexual offences (4 percent compared with 2 percent), with the highest rate experienced by women aged 15–24 years (12 percent). Over a third of sexual offences were committed by the victims’ current partners.  

Table SS2.1 Criminal victimisation prevalence rate (%), by age and sex, 2005

  Rate per 100 persons in each group
Age group Men Women Total
15–24 53 56 55
25–39 44 47 46
40–59 36 37 37
60+ 21 19 20
Total 39 39 39

Source: Mayhew and Reilly (2007) Table C3

Ethnic differences

The likelihood of being a victim of crime varies by ethnicity. Among both Māori and Pacific peoples, 47 percent of adults had experienced some form of criminal victimisation in 2005. This compared with 43 percent of Asians and 37 percent of Europeans. The high rates for Māori and Pacific peoples are likely to be due, at least in part, to these populations having a high incidence of other risk factors associated with victimisation – for instance they are more likely to be young, to be unemployed, to be sole parents and to live in more socio-economically deprived areas. 

Māori had a relatively high rate of victimisation for confrontational offences: 14 percent for offences committed by partners, and 11 percent both for offences committed by people well known to them and for offences committed by other offenders. For Māori women, the risk of being assaulted or threatened by a partner was three times the average (18 percent compared with 6 percent for all respondents). Comparable figures for Pacific peoples are not reliable owing to the small size of the sample.

Other groups at risk

Other groups reporting a high level of victimisation included sole parents with children (60 percent had experienced some form of criminal victimisation in 2005), students and people living with flatmates (57 percent and 54 percent, respectively), people who were single or in de facto relationships (50 percent and 49 percent), people who rented their homes either from private landlords or public agencies (49 percent and 45 percent), those who were unemployed and/or on benefits (48 percent), and those who lived in the most deprived fifth of New Zealand areas (45 percent). Many of these characteristics are closely inter-related.