Public trust in NZ’s judicial system declines

A recent survey has uncovered some unsettling trends with regards to judges and the courts and how both are perceived by the general public.

Public trust in NZ’s judicial system declines
Only 35% of New Zealanders have complete or lots of trust in judges and the courts, according to a new report which highlights some key trends in the way the judicial system is viewed by the public.
 
The survey, Who Do We Trust, was conducted by Colmar Brunton and published by Victoria University’s Institute for Governance and Policy Studies (IGPS). When asked for their feelings on judges and the courts, the poll’s 1,000 respondents answered as follows:
 
  • Complete trust (7%)
  • Lots of trust (28%)
  • Some trust (48%)
  • Little trust (14%)
  • No trust (3%)
 
Over the past three years, the level of trust in the judicial system had dropped by 17%, the survey found. In fact, 27% of respondents said that their levels of trust in judges and the courts had fallen while only 10% said their levels had risen.
 
Other trends appeared when the data was broken down across various demographics.
 
“In terms of judges and the courts, the main differentiating factor is household income,” Dr Michael Macaulay, director of the IGPS and associate professor of public management, told NZ Lawyer. “Those from lower income households have less trust than those from higher income households.”
 
When broken down across household income, the relationship with trust became obvious:
 
  • $30,000 or less (27% trust completely or a lot)
  • $30,001 to $70,000 (27% trust completely or a lot)
  • $70,001 to $100,000 (38% trust completely or a lot)
  • $100,000 or more (49% trust completely or a lot)
 
There is also a clear trend when looking at age groups, Macaulay added.
 
“Interestingly, younger people seem to have higher levels of trust,” he said. “Forty-five per cent of 18 to 29 year olds trust the judicial system completely or a lot, compared to 31% of those aged 30 or more.”
 

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