Posts Tagged Police statistics

Police publish two-year review of Section 59

August 25, 2009

NZ Police has published a summary of two years monitoring of relevant police activity since enactment of the Crimes (Substituted section 59) Amendment Act 2007.

This project began on 17th March 2007, three months prior to enactment. It ended on 22nd June 2009 two years after enactment.

Regular updates have been published since June 2007. This final report includes the 5th monitoring period (5th April 2009 to 22nd June 2009) not previously reported.

During the two years police brought one prosecution for smacking which was subsequently withdrawn. A further 13 prosecutions were brought for events classified as “minor acts of physical discipline”. These events may have included a smacking element plus other aggravating factors.

Of those 14 cases prosecuted sentences included diversion, discharge without conviction, conviction and discharged, and supervision.

Deputy Commissioner (Operations) Rob Pope says the monitoring shows police have consistently applied their discretion when dealing with child assault events.

“The amendment has had minimal impact on police activity and officers have continued to apply a commonsense approach”

“The monitoring has shown that practice guidelines issued by the Commissioner in June 2007 have been effective in guiding police when dealing with these difficult cases”

“Police has continued to apply its discretion and assess each incident on a case by case basis”

Notes:

(i) Two new reports are available on the police website at www.police.govt.nz/resources. These are the final 2 months of monitoring (5th review) plus the summary report of all reviews over the last two years.

(ii) The 1063 child assault events identified in this review period are not the total number of child assault events attended nationally by police during this time. These are events which, according to 7 offence codes, were most likely to identify incidents which might involve ‘smacking’. This is because ‘smacking’ in itself is not an offence.

The Police Family Violence Governance Group and the Ministry of Social Development agreed to examine the following seven offence types:

  • Assault Child (Manually)
  • Assault Child (Other Weapon)
  • Common Assault (Domestic)(Manually) Common Assault (Manually)
  • Other Assault on Child (Under 14 Years)
  • Common Assault Domestic (Other Weapon)
  • Other Common Assault

And based on this examination the events were allocated to one of each of the following categories: ‘smacking’, ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ and ‘other child assault’. The rationale used to allocate each event to a specific category involved consideration of the:

  • actual physical action used in the child assault; and
  • the context and the surrounding circumstances, as outlined in the Commissioners Circular.

(iv) The Commissioner’s Circular on this issue released in June 2007 can be found on the NZ Police website

More analysis of the Police statistics

August 5, 2009

Open Parachute has a cogent summary of the recent Police Statistics on the Child Discipline Law.

1:  “Smacking” in itself is not an offence. The report had to consider offence codes which weren’t “smacking” but most likely to include “smacking” type incidents.

2: The legislation has had “minimal impact on police activity.”

3: During the review period “police attended 279 child assault events, 39 involved ‘minor acts of physical discipline’ and 8 involved smacking.”

4: There has been a decrease in ‘smacking events’ and ‘minor acts of physical discipline.’

5: There has been an increase (36) of ‘other child assault’ events. (We should be concerned about these).

6: “No prosecutions were made for ‘smacking’ events during this period.”

Read the whole article at Open Parachute.

Making sense of police statistics

July 18, 2009

On 10 July 2009 the Police released their 4th six-monthly report on Police activity since the statutory defence for assault on a child was removed from the Crimes Act 1961.

In an article printed in the New Zealand Herald [11 July] –  “Big jump in child assaults reports” by  Simon Collins claims that the number of minor assaults reported to the police has jumped 40% since the three month period before the law change.  Taken at face value this could be interpreted as the 2007 law leading to a huge increase in the number of “good” parents being referred to the Police for correcting their children by simply smacking them. This is not the case.

To understand why, it’s important to knowhow the Police categorise the cases they report on.  Police do not spell out the nature of the events involved in the cases they report but only say that, The terms “smacking”, “minor acts of physical discipline” and “other child assaults” are terms created for monitoring purposes so that the reviews accurately reflect the complex nature and context of each case.  But in fact they represent a hierarchy with “other child assaults” being the heavier end of physical punishment.

By putting the categories together, looking at monthly averages and coming up with the 40% figure Simon creates a misleading impression.

If we use Simon’s average per month approach separately for each category we find that where “smacking” is concerned there is less than a 1% increase between the three month period before the law change and the figures reported in the last Police review.  But in fact the numbers reported are so small that it is nonsense to talk percentages at all. About 1 case a month in the three month before law change and about 1.03 in the last review period is not a statistically significant change.

Looking at the “minor acts of physical discipline category” we find that there has been a 100% increase between the three month period before law reform and the last set of figures.  But in fact we are talking about the difference between say 3 cases a month and 6 cases a month – again too small a number to be meaningful.

In the third category “Other Child Assault” we are looking at a rise from about 27 cases a month to 34 cases a month in the relevant periods – a little over 25% increase – but again 7 cases is not a statistically significant change.

The slight increase in reporting at the heavier ends of physical punishment should be interpreted positively – as demonstrating a greater willingness on the part of the public to report concerns about the way a child is treated – and as making more opportunities for parents to be given support and guidance to manage their children’s behaviour in more positive ways.

The case of the Christchurch ‘ear-flick’ Dad who apparently punched his child on the face and was given an anger management sentence illustrates the point.

We must also keep in mind that the total number of prosecutions in the  “smacking” and minor acts of physical discipline categories has been vey small over the whole period.

Police statistics confirm child discipline law protects children who need it most

July 10, 2009

The latest six-monthly Police statistics confirm that the public can have confidence in the child discipline law and the way it is being administered.

“The statistics released today show that Police have prosecuted fewer cases of smacking and minor physical discipline in the past six months, but more cases of other child assault.  In all cases, Police advise that they have only taken action because of the range of circumstances combining to place children at risk.  As such, the law is protecting those who need it most and this is positive news,” said Deborah Morris-Travers, spokesperson for the Yes Vote coalition.

These figures continue to demonstrate that Police are exercising the discretion affirmed in the law.  While the law grants children the same legal protections as all other citizens have, Police are not prosecuting parents who lightly or occasionally smack their child.  The legal opinion from the Human Rights Commission released this confirms the law is a necessary statute and is working well.

“Importantly, the law is consistent with government and community efforts to support parents to do their best for their children through the use of positive, non-violent, parenting techniques.

“The statistics released today affirm what members of the Yes Vote coalition have said many times … the child discipline law is working well and parents have nothing to fear.  This is yet another good reason to vote YES in the upcoming referendum,” concluded Ms Morris-Travers.

Plunket Barnardos Save the Children Unicef Jigsaw Ririki Parents CentrePaediatric Society Womens Refuge Epoch

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