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Get tough no solution

Written By: - Date published: 2:20 pm, February 23rd, 2010 - 7 comments
Categories: crime, Media, police - Tags:

Colin Espiner gets to the heart of the government’s latest knee-jerk policy:

I have to say I’m a bit wary about elevating the status of police to a higher level than anyone else. It sets a dangerous precedent, in my opinion. Because once it’s OK to set higher penalties for violence against police, then what about other professions held in high esteem? Doesn’t that somehow devalue similar attacks on the elderly in their own homes, such as has just happened in Christchurch? It’s all a bit Orwellian, isn’t it? Everyone’s equal, but some are more equal than others.

Of course I’m not trying to belittle the problem of violence against the police. But don’t we have to look at the root cause rather than simply reach for the sentencing lever yet again? Both National and Labour before them have been merrily increasing sentences for violent crimes for ten years now, and has it made any difference? Not that I’d noticed.

A crime policy that doesn’t reduce crime isn’t really a crime policy, eh? It’s a show, a charade, a con. And, worse, it’s a distraction from real solutions. The best crime policy is a full employment policy.

It’s always so knee-jerk as well. A couple of weeks ago there was a spate of attacks on dogs and cats. So the Government immediately responded by drafting legislation increasing the penalties for that, too.

That’s a sympton of a do nothing government with no other agenda than backhanders to its mates and staying popular. Brings to mind gobsmacked’s comment:

“Keyism explained:
1. At the weekend, there is News. Usually, it’s bad (because that’s what news is).
2. On Monday morning Key is interviewed by Hosking, Lush, Henry, etc. They ask him about the News. Key says Something Will Be Done, about the News.
3. (optional) Policy work is done, on a response to the News. This might involve research, analysis and awkward conclusions. If so, Policy work is ignored. So Step 3 is superfluous.
4. Either a) the subject is quietly dropped. The media don’t bother asking about this.
or b) A law is proposed, and probably passed. ACT don’t really think it will work, but support it anyway. Maori Party are not really interested, but they support it anyway.
The News could be anything. Whales, gang patches in Whanganui, sow crates, dangerous dogs, Ed Hillary and Auckland Museum, the rugby. It doesn’t matter.
It is the News. Therefore, John Key must respond, expressing a firm view that he has held since about yesterday. And will no longer hold next week.
Keyism. The doctrine for our times.”

Espiner continues:

I think they’re simply drugged or drunk or angry or insane or all of the above. [Likewise] sending someone to jail for feeding kittens to his dog isn’t likely to help either. It kinda points to a deeper malaise, don’t you think? 

Yeah, it is. Crime is not, as Judith Collins seems to think, evil people doing evil things that can be repressed by ever greater state violence. Deterrence doesn’t work because crime, especially violent crime, is not a rational outcome of weighing costs and benefits. Crime is a symptom of a society and individuals with underlying problems like poverty, alienation, substance abuse, and mental illness.

7 comments on “Get tough no solution ”

  1. Rex Widerstrom 1

    Western Australia has just passed an “assaults against public officers” act. And indeed there was much debate leading up to it along the lines of “What about the ambos?” “Yeah, well what about the nurses?” and so on.

    I think in the end they drew the line at the hospital door… so you’d better not lay a hand on the cop who arrests you or the ambulance officer who patches you up affter the cop has finished with you, but once you’re wheeled into the hospital it’s a free-for-all.

    It is just kneejerk policy making of the worst and most short-sighted sort. But if it were merely stupid and ineffective it’d be no worse than most laws passed by politicians.

    This one, however, is positively dangerous because it sends a message to Police that they are untouchable in a legal as well as physical sense and so they figure they can resort to a bit of biff when someone does something as innocuous as make a joke about them.

    The outcome of these sorts of laws is well (and vividly) documented so one can only assume Collins et al want those sorts of encounters to become commonplace on NZ streets.

  2. “Crime is a symptom of a society and individuals with underlying problems like poverty, alienation, substance abuse, and mental illness.”

    lets not forget racism, frustration, disenchantment and loss of faith in politicians.

    “so one can only assume Collins et al want those sorts of encounters to become commonplace on NZ streets.”

    oh yeah, so the cops want a riot too ?…i would imagine its not that hard to create a situation. just keep on keeping on with the same ol’ same ol’

  3. Quoth the Raven 3

    That’s a sympton of a do nothing government with no other agenda than backhanders to its mates and staying popular.

    Yes and lets not forget Labour’s record on this – new acts on sentencing, parole, bail, more police powers and great growth in the prison population as a result of it. It was nasty populist politics from a party in which you’d think at least some of the members might know better. National is really just giving us more of the same that we got from Labour.

    • Rex Widerstrom 3.1

      Hear hear, QtR. And any hope they’d grown a spine was dashed by Dalziel’s pathetic lack of support for the Chief Justice when she spoke out on the issue of sentencing and parole.

      At least the further right you go, the more the party has the excuse that this nonsense is a genuinely held, if totally erroneous belief.

      When it comes from a party ostensibly of the left, it’s a sickening display of political prostitution that makes Peter Dunne look principled.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        Labour hasn’t been “of the left” since about the 1980s.

        • Rex Widerstrom 3.1.1.1

          Agreed, hence the word “ostensibly”.

          Though they’re still capable of taking a liberal approach to social issues (civil unions et al). So I suspect that when they talk about criminals they know they’re wrong, whereas many of those who are on the right believe their own sloganeering.

          It seems that, for Labour, offenders are the last group against whom it’s perfectly okay to vent your illinformed prejudices, even if you know them to be wrong. Hypocrites all.

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