Government shifts crime reduction goalposts

The goalposts have been shifted for the Government when it comes to crime reduction.

As part of its new set of Better Public Service targets, announced on Tuesday, it has removed its target to reduce reoffending. It originally aimed to have reoffending reduced by a quarter by June this year, but only managed to bring it down by 4.5 percent.

It has set out ten Better Public Service targets for the next four years, including a new promise to reduce the number of serious crime victims by 10,000. In the year to March there were 135,000 serious crime victims.

But Labour's police spokesman Stuart Nash says the targets aren't anywhere near as challenging as they need to be.

The serious crime offences include homicide and related offences, serious assault, abduction and kidnapping, blackmail and extortion, robbery, burglary, motor vehicle and other serious theft.

The new target does not cover domestic or sexual violence with the Government saying they'll be measured separately because there's a focus on an increase of the reporting of these crimes to police.

It's a much more modest target than their previous goals.

The new targets update those that were introduced in 2012.

The target to reduce serious crimes by 10,000 has replaced the target to reduce total crime rates and violent crime rates by 20 percent and to reduce youth crime by 25 percent.

The Youth Crime target was more than achieved - with youth crime rates down a third - but overall crime is only down 14 percent.

"The targets are challenging, they demand a lot of the public service and community organisations," Prime Minister Bill English said.

But Labour's police spokesman Stuart Nash says the targets aren't anywhere near as challenging as they need to be.

"It's considerably less aspirational than I would've expected," he said. "It's almost an admission in my view that police just don't have the resources to go hard on crime."

Mr Nash calls the scrapping of measuring domestic and sexual violence "disingenuous".

"Even if they're measuring them and saying we're not going to include them in our target, it's like saying 'well we admit that we can't achieve a target if we put something that's too hard in there therefore we're going to take it out'. Well that is, I used disingenuous, I would almost say dishonest."

Justice Minister Amy Adams says that the Government ditching the reoffending target isn't an admission of failure.

"No not all. We haven't ditched it, we continue to track it, we continue to report on it but we have the opportunity to have one law and order target in this next set of BPS targets."

"We're going to work on having a lot fewer serious crimes across New Zealand, and to do that we're going to be working with re-offenders and first time offenders."

Prime Minister Bill English acknowledged that not all of the previous targets were met.

In place of the target to reduce reoffending is a new commitment to reduce the amount of time spent on Housing New Zealand waiting lists - the Government wants a 20 per cent reduction in the time it takes to house priority clients on the social housing register.

"These targets were deliberately meant to be challenging, so although not everyone has been met yet, I'm proud of what we have achieved, alongside New Zealand families," Mr English said.

Some of the previous targets are continuing, like the target to reduce long term welfare dependence.

"We are persisting with our existing targets to reduce welfare dependency and serious crime because we want to achieve more alongside the New Zealanders and their communities whose lives are blighted by these issues," Mr English said.

The Government's new Better Public Service targets:

1 Reduce long term welfare dependence

By June 2018, this targets aims for a 25 percent reduction of the number of people receiving main benefits. This is a continuation of a previously set target.

2 Healthy mums & babies

By 2021, this target aims for 90 percent of pregnant women to be registering with a Lead Maternity Carer in the first trimester. It replaces the target of increasing ECE participation which reached 96.7 percent last year

3 Keeping kids healthy

By 2021, this target aims for a 25 percent reduction in the rate of hospitalisations of children (aged 0-12) for preventable conditions. This replaces the target of increasing infant immunisation and rheumatic fever. Between 93-94 percent of 8-month-olds are consistently fully immunised.

4 Safer kids: reduce assaults and abuse of children

By 2021, this target aims for a 20 percent reduction in the number of children experiencing a substantiated incidence of physical or sexual abuse. This extends a previous target of reducing assault, to now include sexual abuse and physical abuse.

5 Improve mathematics & literacy skills

By 2021, this target aims to have 80 percent of year 8 students achieving at or above the National Standard in writing and mathematics, or at or at Manawa Ora or Manawa Toa in Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori tuhituhi or Manawa Ora or Manawa Toa in Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori pāngarau. This replaces a target of increasing the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA Level 2, which is expected to be at 85 percent in 2017.

6 Upskill the New Zealand workforce

By 2018, this target aims for 60 percent of 2534 year olds to have a qualification at Level 4 or above. It's a continuation of an existing target.

7 Reduce serious crime

By 2021 this target aims to reduce the number of serious crimes by 10,000. It replaces the previous targets of reducing total crime, and reducing violent and youth offending.

8 Better access to social housing

By 2021, this target aims for a 20 percent reduction in the median time to house priority A clients on the social housing register. This target replaces the target to reduce reoffending, which has been thrown out.

9 Easy and seamless services for business

By 2020, this target aims for business costs from dealing with Government to reduce by 25 percent.

It also aims for Government services to business to have similar performance ratings to leading private sector firms. It is a continuation of a previous target, with a new name.

10 People have easy access to public services

By 2021, this target aims for 80 percent of the twenty most common transactions to be completed digitally. It replaces a previous target, which was that New Zealanders can complete their transactions with Government easily in an online environment.