More than three-quarters of crime in New Zealand doesn't get reported to police, with many victims not even realising an offence has been committed against them.

The surprising statistic was released today as part of the New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey.

The survey showed while 71 per cent of Kiwis have not experienced crime in the past year, 77 per cent of crime is also not reported to police.

The most common crime is burglary, which accounts for 1nearly one in five incidents.


"What the survey revealed to us was the extent of what is known as 'shadow crime', which is essentially the amount of crime that goes unreported to police," Ministry of Justice chief executive and secretary for justice Andrew Kibblewhite said.

The survey was the "most comprehensive report ever undertaken into the true nature of crime in Aotearoa", and called it a "vital piece of information to help us understand the true volume and nature of crime in New Zealand, and who it affects".

More than 8000 people over the age of 15 were interviewed face-to-face between March and October 2018 and asked about any incidents of crime they'd experienced in the previous year.

The survey shows that many people didn't even know a crime had been committed against them said James Swindells, manager of research and evaluation at the Ministry of Justice.

"They thought that whatever happened was just normal behaviour."

Burglary most common crime

The survey shows 1,777,000 incidents of crime were estimated over the past 12 months - nearly two-thirds of which was personal crime, and one-third household crime.

Personal offences include theft and property damage, robbery and assault, fraud and deception, cybercrime, sexual assault, and harassment and threatening behaviour.

Household offences include crimes such as burglary, trespass, and unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.


The most common type of offence is burglary, which makes up 18 per cent of the estimated incidents over the year.

It is closely followed by harassment and threatening behaviour, which, at 300,000 incidents, makes up 17 per cent of offending.

Fraud and deception was the third most common, with 273,000 incidents.

The survey found neither men nor women were more or less likely to be victims of crime.

Meanwhile, the proportion of gay and lesbian victims is almost 40 per cent higher than that of heterosexual or straight victims, and for bisexual people it is nearly 70 per cent higher.

As for age, people are more likely to be a victim while aged between 20 and 29. The age group made up 40 per cent of victims.

Māori, at 37 per cent, were more likely to be victims of crime than the national average
29 per cent.

Life satisfaction also plays a part.

"We found a strong relationship between life satisfaction and crime prevalence rates both
for all victims and for victims of personal crime," the report said.

"In general, a higher level of life satisfaction is associated with lower prevalence and
incidence rates of victimisation overall and for personal offences."

Women are victimised four times as much as men when it comes to intimate partner violence.
Women are victimised four times as much as men when it comes to intimate partner violence.

The report noted the high level of association did not necessarily prove a causal link.

Other groups more likely to be victims of crime include those in psychological distress, solo parents, people living in larger households, renters, households with an income above $150,000, and people who cannot afford unexpected extra spending of $500 within a month.

Who are the victims of violence?

Women are victimised four times as much as men when it comes to intimate partner violence.

More than 30,000 adults were victimised by partners and more than 16,000 by ex-partners in a year, and 77 per cent of the victims were women.

Meanwhile, more than 30,000 people were victimised by their current partner in the 12 months, and the proportion of Māori being victimised is twice as high as the national average.

Psychological violence was also looked at in the survey, with 100,000 adults experiencing it over the year.

This type of violence includes forcing a victim to stop contacting family or friends, following or keeping track of them, controlling their access to phone, internet or transport, preventing their access to healthcare, pressing a victim into paid work, or preventing a victim from doing paid work.

"The most frequent type of psychological violence is stopping someone from contacting
family or friends, and the least frequent is preventing access to healthcare," the report said.

The proportion of Māori who experienced physical or psychological intimate partner violence is 75 per cent higher than that of Pākehā.

The survey also estimates about 1.1 million people have experienced either intimate partner violence or sexual violence over their lifetimes, and a third of women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes.

Alcohol and drugs are also involved in almost half of crime incidents.

The 148-page report is the first of three annual surveys costing $3.7 million in total. The next round of interviews for the 2020 report are already under way.

"We had a great deal of public support in carrying out the survey and we would like to thank everyone who told us about their experiences of crime," Kibblewhite said.

The NZCVS replaces the previous NZ Crime and Safety Survey (NZCASS). As a different methodology has been used, the NZCVS results cannot be compared to previous NZCASS results.