Fifty-three Bay of Plenty teachers have received criminal convictions in the past four years for offences involving alcohol, drugs and violence, but only four teachers have been struck off, new figures show.

Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar said the figures were "extremely concerning".

"Teachers do exactly what the title implies. They teach, they lead, many students follow by example, that means teachers should be role models and promoters of the type of society we wish to create," Mr McVicar said.

Figures released to the Bay of Plenty Times under the Official Information Act show from January 1 to September 30, five teachers received convictions. There were 10 in 2015; 18 in 2014; 20 in 2013.

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The most recent conviction was on October 10 for aggressive behaviour and physical handling.

Of the convictions received since 2013, 11 were driving related, 29 were alcohol and drug related, and five were for violence.

During that period four teachers were struck off, two for dishonesty convictions, one for violence and one for relationship and employment matters.

However in seven years before that, between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2012, three teachers were struck off for matters of violence/alcohol, dishonestly and drugs/alcohol. During that period five teachers received convictions for violence, 49 for alcohol/drugs, two for dishonestly, one for a sexual matter and 23 for other matters.

Of the 80 total convictions, 18 were first convictions.

"Teachers are failing to lead and the judiciary are failing to be society's gate keepers," " Mr McVicar said.

Education Council government relations and information manager David Cramp said the ratio of convictions to registration losses was not concerning for the council, "as the outcomes depends on the convictions themselves and the ratio seems reasonable".

Convictions punishable by imprisonment for three months or more were considered by the education council's disciplinary tribunal, he said.

Those with the serious offences were struck off. Other convictions, such as benefit fraud or drink driving, were dealt with by putting conditions on their practising certificates but not cancelling their registration, Mr Cramp said.

"The Disciplinary Tribunal's decisions were proportionate and reasonable to the circumstances and the nature of the convictions."

The Secondary Principals' Association of New Zealand Inc and NZEI would not comment on the matter.

Disciplinary process

The Education Council is responsible for investigating, and, if necessary, exercising disciplinary functions, relating to teacher conduct, convictions and competence.

There are two distinct processes for investigating conduct and convictions, and competence:

· Conduct and convictions are investigated by the Council's investigators and the Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC) and may be referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal.

· Competence these matters are considered by the Council's Competence Assessors and a final determination is made by the Governing Council.