Pauline Colmar Poll on Crime Issues

This Poll was conducted in May 2011 on a sample of 1000 people 15 years and older spread throughout New Zealand, as per the population. These attitudes were measured by the Sensible Sentencing Trust for the very first time and so the results serve as a benchmark Poll.

It is apparent that most people want sentences in New Zealand different from the way they are currently:

  • 73% think prison sentences for violent crimes, (such as murder and rape), are too short with only 2% thinking they are too long
  • 61% think punishments given in New Zealand for Youth Offending, (such as graffiti, vandalism and petty theft), are too soft and only 2% think they are too hard
  • 86% think that if a person commits three crimes and is sentenced to one year prison for each crime, that their total sentence should be for 3 years; just 9% think the sentence should be for 1 year
  • 71% think DNA should be recorded for people arrested and 24% think not
  • Additionally, 65% think that the level of violent crime in New Zealand is getting worse and only 4% that it is getting better. 26% consider the level to be about the same.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has high awareness with 65% of all New Zealanders 15+ years having heard of the Trust.

A full detailed Report with the research design and objectives detailed can be found here in PDF format

RESULTS

The actual questions that were asked are in italics.

1. Violent Crime Prison Sentence Lengths

“Are prison sentences given in New Zealand for violent crimes, such as murder and rape, too short, about right or too long?”

Length of Violent Crime Sentences
All NZers 15+ years (1000) %
Too short                                          72.8
About right                                      18.8
Too long                                            1.6
Don’t know                                       6.8
100

The majority of New Zealanders (73%) think prison sentences given for violent crimes, such as murder and rape, are too short with 19% thinking they are about right and only 2% thinking they are too long.

2. Levels of Violent Crime Over Time
“Is the level of violent crime in New Zealand getting worse, is it about the same or is it getting better?”

         Levels of Violent Crime Over Time
All NZers 15+ years (1000) %
Worse                                  64.9
About the same                26.2
Better                                   4.2
Don’t know                         4.7
100

Two thirds of New Zealanders (65%) think that the level of violent crime in New Zealand is getting worse, 26% that it is about the same and only 4% that it is getting better.

3. Youth Offending Punishment Levels
“Are punishments given in New Zealand for Youth Offending such as graffiti, vandalism, and petty theft too soft, about right or too hard?”

             Youth Offending Punishment Levels
All NZers 15+ years (1000) %
Too soft                            61.4
About right                     27.4
Too hard                           1.8
Don’t know                      9.4
100

Most New Zealanders (61%) think punishments given in New Zealand for Youth Offending are too soft, with 27% thinking they are about right and only 2% thinking they are too hard.

4. Prison Sentences Added or Served At Once
“If a person commits three crimes and is sentenced to one year prison for each crime, should their total sentence be for 3 years or for 1 year?”

                    Prison Sentences Added or Served At Once
All NZers 15+ years (1000) %
3 years                                85.9
1 year                                   8.8
Don’t know                        5.3
100

Almost all New Zealanders (86%) think that if a person commits three crimes and is sentenced to one year prison for each crime that their total sentence should be for 3 years. Just 9% of New Zealanders think the sentences should be concurrent and 1 year served.

5. DNA Recording
“Should DNA be recorded for any person arrested for a crime?”

             DNA Recording if Arrested
All NZers 15+ years (1000) %
Yes                                71.0
No                                 23.6
Don’t know                 5.4
100

The majority of New Zealanders, 71%, think DNA should be recorded for any person arrested of a crime and 24% think not.

6. Sensible Sentencing Trust Awareness
“Have you heard of the Sensible Sentencing Trust?”

            Aware of Sensible Sentencing Trust
All NZers 15+ years (1000) %
Yes                             64.6
No                              34.5
Unsure                      0.9
100

Two thirds of New Zealanders (65%) have heard of the Sensible Sentencing Trust and 35% have not.

Poll sample details
1000 telephone interviews were conducted for this Poll with New Zealanders aged 15 years and over. The sample was randomly selected from throughout New Zealand and is representative of the population. A full profile of the personal and household demographics of the sample is at the back of this Full Report PDF

All interviewing was conducted between May 10th and 30th, 2011 by Consumer Link, a fieldwork and tabulations company owned by Colmar Brunton Research. The questions were included in their Telephone Omnibus Survey (which is a cost share survey with other companies). Interviewers are fully trained and supervised with 10% of surveys audited. Three calls are made to reach each randomly selected respondent before replacement.

Contact is weekday evenings and weekends so as to not over-sample nonworkers and stay-at-homes. Approximately equal numbers of males and females are interviewed and the data is subsequently weighted to reflect age, gender and household size as per the total New Zealand population.

Pauline Colmar, a market research specialist, designed the research and wrote this report.

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