Court charges drop by more than 20 per cent

By Kate Shuttleworth

For every 10,000 people in New Zealand, 22 were sentenced to prison last year compared with 25 in 2011. Photo / File
For every 10,000 people in New Zealand, 22 were sentenced to prison last year compared with 25 in 2011. Photo / File

The number of people being charged in court has reduced by more than 20 per cent in the last four years, statistics released today show.

The conviction and sentencing figures, published on the Statistics New Zealand website, show 98,783 people appeared in court last year, down seven per cent from 2011 and 22 per cent from 2009.

The child and youth prosecution statistics, also published today, show the rate of children and young people being charged in court is the lowest in 20 years down to 3018. That's a reduction of 40 per cent since 2007.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the figures confirmed that crime was falling.

"The results show that this Government's strong commitment to making our communities safer is working."

The number of people charged with a violent offence has dropped 17 per cent over the last four years, after steadily increasing between 2004 and 2009.

"Reversing of the violent offence trend is particularly pleasing because violent offences are responsible for the most harm in our communities."

Up to 74 per cent of the people charged in court are convicted, and 10 per cent of those are sent to prison.

For every 10,000 people in New Zealand, 22 were sentenced to prison last year compared with 25 in 2011.

The statistics revealed the most common sentence imposed was a fine or reparation, 39 per cent, while 17 per cent get a community sentence and 28 per cent community work.

The number of children and young people convicted in an adult court for serious offences has dropped from 500 to 199 in the last five years.

Children and young people now make up less than three per cent of the total number of people charged in court in New Zealand.

The statistics also show:

- In the adult court, charges for most offence types have decreased compared with 2011.

- In 2012, most charges in court were over low-level offences. For example, the two main categories of offences were traffic and vehicle regulatory offences, and offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations.

- People charged with the most serious violent offences in 2012 were more likely to be sentenced to imprisonment and for longer periods than those convicted of less serious offence types.

- APNZ

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