In the last six months of last year three people were prosecuted for smacking - almost half the total number of prosecutions since the anti-smacking legislation came into effect five years ago.
Police today published their tenth review of smacking-related activity since the introduction of the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007.
The figures covered the period June 22 to December 21, 2011, during which time police attended 500 child assault events.
Of those events, 23 involved smacking and 45 involved "minor acts of physical discipline".
Of the 23 smacking events, three resulted in prosecution; and of the 45 minor acts of physical discipline, six resulted in prosecution.
The latest three prosecutions ended with various outcomes - one pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months' supervision, another pleaded guilty and received nine months' supervision and 100 hours' community work, and the third was eventually withdrawn due to insufficient evidence.
Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said the review's findings were consistent with previous reviews.
"We continue to be happy with the way the legislation is being applied by police staff."
The trend upwards in the number of events was because of the more widespread use of the legislation by police and also increased reporting as public awareness of the legislation grew.
"There have been just eight prosecutions for smacking events since the Amendment was enacted in June 2007. This suggests the practise guidelines on this matter issued by the Commissioner continue to work well and police continue to apply their discretion appropriately in these cases."
Police would continue to report on the impact of the legislation through to June this year, with the last report due out at the end of the year.
Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie said the latest results showed the law was a dog's breakfast when there was such a high rate of cases warranting no further action by the police.
"Of most concern is that the report refers to an upward trend in smacking cases, and 'more widespread use of the legislation' by the police," he said.
It was incredible that police were wasting time investigating hundreds of families who "obviously don't warrant that investigation".
Family First has called for an amendment to the anti-smacking law to clearly define what reasonable physical correction is, and to decriminalise non-abusive smacking.
- APNZBy Hana Garrett-Walker Email Hana