The impact of the Canterbury Earthquakes on the temporal and spatial patterning of crime in Christchurch, New Zealand

14 Feb 2018

The Canterbury Earthquakes struck the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand between September 2010 and February 2011. The Earthquakes resulted in widespread structural damage to Christchurch, the main city of the region, and greatly impacted other aspects of society including crime. In this study, we adopt an exploratory approach to investigate the impact that these earthquakes have had on the temporal and spatial patterning of four types of crime in Christchurch: assault, domestic violence, burglary and arson. Overall crime has decreased in post-quake Christchurch with the notable exception of domestic violence. We found remarkably similar temporal signatures of crime for all crime types occurring across both the pre- and post-earthquake periods. Spatially, crime has increased in the majority of neighbourhoods in Christchurch post-quake despite overall crime levels being down. Explanations for this paradoxical and other finding are outlined in the context of a rebuilding and recovering city.