Home Sexual Health Homicide, sexual assault charges plummet during lockdown

Homicide, sexual assault charges plummet during lockdown

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The number of homicide, robbery and sexual violence charges all sharply dropped during the nationwide lockdown.

After a bomb threat was made

A file photo of police officers and a security guard outside Wellington District Court.
Photo: RNZ / Rob Dixon

By the end of the lockdown, nearly 32,000 hearings in district courts had been adjourned as a result of Covid-19.

Data released by the Ministry of Justice today has revealed the trends in the District Court under alert level 4.

Courts were an essential service during the lockdown; hearing priority proceedings even at the peak of pandemic restrictions.

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

Overall, 22 percent fewer charges were laid in the District Court during the lockdown.

Homicide, robbery and fraud charges all dropped roughly 40 percent while the biggest change was a 65 percent drop in sexual violence charges.

Charges relating to family violence – expected to rise as households came under pressure in the pandemic – dropped 10 percent.

The number of applications filed in the Family Court more than halved during the lockdown with a 37 percent decrease in urgent protection order applications.

Before lockdown, the most common charges were failing to attend court while on bail and drink driving.

Under lockdown, the most common charges were assault on a family member and obstructing or hindering a Medical Officer of Health or someone assisting them.

More than 600 charges for breaching alert level restrictions were filed in every jurisdiction in the country.

The majority were for obstructing or hindering a Medical Officer of Health or someone assisting them under the Health Act, while a handful were for breaching the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002.

The worst offending regions were the East Coast, South Auckland, Canterbury and Northern Wellington while the Manawatū/Wairarapa region had the lowest number of charges filed.

By the end of the lockdown, nearly 32,000 hearings in the District Court had been adjourned as a direct result of Covid-19.

The country’s busiest jurisdiction, the District Court, was hearing an average of 14,500 cases every seven days before the lockdown.

This dropped to 3250, roughly 20 percent of normal output, during alert level 4 as foot traffic in courthouses dwindled to as little as 3 percent.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/417168/homicide-sexual-assault-charges-plummet-during-lockdown

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