Law & Order Survey – New Zealand

Dame Sian, Peter Williams and many politicians are out of step with what the country wants.

Kiwis want all parts of the law and order process toughened up including the lengths of prison sentences.

Three quarters of New Zealanders believe current prison sentences are too light to be an effective deterrent to crime, which again shows the gulf between the public and the people charged with setting and implementing the law on their behalf.

““Life should mean life” and “the longer the criminals are in jail, the longer our community is safe”, are comments we regularly hear from people when we ask them about law and order in New Zealand”, says Paul Epplett, Senior Client Service Director at Research International. “Executive Pardons as proposed by Dame Sian Elias therefore, completely ignore the will of the majority of New Zealanders”.

There is support for tougher laws seen to clamp down on criminals with 6 in 10 agreeing that banning gang patches in public places is a good thing. Interestingly, many of those against this law don’t think it is a bad thing per se, but feel it won’t be effective with gangs finding alternative means to represent their affiliation.

In addition to tougher laws and sentencing, two-thirds of Kiwis (67%) support the police being armed at all times with tasers, which is being rolled out at present, while only 20% oppose the deployment. However, support for arming our police with hand guns is significantly lower at 34%. “Given this survey takes place in the wake of some very high profile cases where police have been shot, it is perhaps surprising that this figure is so low” says Epplett. “What it does tell us though is that New Zealanders still see New Zealand as a safe place and the arming of the police would be an admission that New Zealand is not the safe, tranquil place that we all still remember it as”.

Those supporting the arming of police do so because they believe the police no longer command the respect they once had. One respondent is quoted as saying “…the police don’t have enough power, they’re not feared…”.

Epplett concludes “Our research shows that there is a perception that crime is on the increase in New Zealand and many see a link between this increase and perceived limitations of the law and order process. From these results we see that there would be public support for taking a tougher stance on law and order and not the softening of laws and sentencing.”

For further information contact:

Paul Epplett
Senior Director, Client Services
Research International
p.epplett@research-int.com
021 877 811

or

Colin Yee
Managing Director, Client Services
Research International
c.yee@research-int.com
021 741 779

Project details
The purpose of the research was to investigate New Zealanders attitudes to a range of key issues facing us as individuals and as a country. This research project took place across New Zealand in June/July 2009. The quantitative stage surveyed 458 respondents aged 16 years and older and has a maximum margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points. The method was a mix of internet and face to face interviews. The qualitative stage completed 6 focus groups of 2.5 hours with 6 people in each.

Statements reviewed:

The following statements were made and respondents had to rate each one on a scale ; 1 Strongly AGREE 2 3 4 5 Strongly DISAGREE

graphkey

1. We should do away with jury’s and replace them with a panel of judges that would adjudicate court cases
2. Prison sentences are currently too light to be effective deterrents to crime
3. I would support our police being armed with tasers at all times
4. I would support our police being armed with handguns at all times
5. I oppose the recent legislation that bans gangs from wearing their patches in public places

Key to Pie Chart

jurycharts

Overview and key observations:

1. We should do away with jury’s and replace them with a panel of judges that would adjudicate court cases.
a. Around 4 in 10 disagree with the statement
b. Around 3 in 10 agree that jury’s should be replaced by a panel of judges.
c. Those who disagree do so because a jury is seen as the best way to give each and every individual a fair and unbiased trial with their peers passing judgement.

prisoncharts

2. Prison sentences are currently too light to be effective deterrents to crime.
a. Three quarters agree with the statement
b. Only 12% of the population disagree with this statement
c. People feel that justice is not being served appropriately and therefore there is no deterrent. They also feel that harsher consequences are needed, particularly with the perceived rise in the crime rate in New Zealand

tasercharts

3. I would support our police being armed with tasers at all times.
a. Two thirds agree that police should be armed with tasers at all times.
b. 1 in 5 disagree with the statement
c. Support increases with age with those aged 55+ giving a 76% agreement but even those aged 12-24 are giving strong agreement at 58%

handguncharts


4. I would support our police being armed with handguns at all times.
a. Nearly one-half (46%) disagree with this statement
b. Around one-third agree with the statement
c. Those who agree think that police do not have enough power and respect and that handguns would give them more authority

gangscharts


5. I oppose the recent legislation that bans gangs from wearing their patches in public places.
a. Around 60% disagree with this statement
b. Around 20% agree with the statement
c. Many of those who oppose this legislation do so because they think that the ban will not be effective as gang members will find alternative means to represent their gang affiliations.

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