Most people would expect NZ to be a safe country. We come to expect small, rural based economies to be safe. But consider the statistics and you might think otherwise. Living in NZ I have as a matter of routine come to hear about injury to tourists, whether its sexual assault, murder or a bashing. The performance of tourist operator organisations strikes me as just as pitiful. There seems to be a litany of stories about:
1. Kayakers drowning
2. Planes crashing
3. Bungy jumpers dying
It made me reflect on this recent statistic. The story is that there are currently 15,000 arrest warrants outstanding in NZ. That struck me as a very high number. So high in fact that I wondered what was typical. I could not find statistics for Australia, but I did for Britain. In Britain, a country with 12x more people, there are just 30,000 outstanding arrest warrants. So the fact that NZ has 15,000 arrest warrants is a little concerning.
The reason this is concerning is because it suggests that 0.36% of the population is 'at large' in NZ compared with just 0.06% in Britain. The implication is that there are more threatening people around you, who are:
1. More likely to be anxious
2. More likely to be hostile
3. More likely to seize your motor vehicle & and possibly apprehend you
4. More likely to raise the stakes and threaten your physical well-being, as well as your psychological comfort, by escaping from capture.
In a nation, where tourist campervans predominate, one might expect these people to be particularly at threat. Tourists are also appealing targets for theft and crimes against person. Asian tourists who are often perceived as submissive, are an even greater target for such people. The flipside is that tourists will stay in certain 'safe' places, whilst others will expose themselves unknowingly. It is not reason not to go to NZ; but it is a reason for risk management. Moreover its a reason for the NZ government to do more to lower this statistic. Of course there are both short term and long term threats:
1. Short term - they need to start taking more proactive steps to apprehend these people
2. Long term - They need to increase the fairness of the justice system; our legislative framework, and they need to address the grievances of those people, so they are less likely to escalate grievances to crime.