Two stories on crime in Christchurch

Written By: - Date published: 11:54 am, May 15th, 2008 - 8 comments
Categories: crime, flip-flop, national - Tags: , , ,

Christchurch hosted a public meeting on crime within the city last week. But the thing that caught my eye, despite the very laudable aim, was how National MP, Nicky Wagner, managed to present two contrasting opinions on the state of crime in the Garden City, in close succession:

I do think the statistics are sometimes skewed because there are less people living in the central city… My gut feeling is the Christchurch is not as violent as we are led to believe…

But just a few days later the language was ramped up:

Garth [McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust] is saying stop the escalating violence and I agree with him, as I see it we have two options, we roll over and wave a white flag and let the criminals rule or we stand-up and reclaim our streets.

At the event itself Police pointed to the ease of access to alcohol and the large amount of licensed premises in the city as causes of crime. Central city area commander Inspector Gary Knowles said about 25 per cent of all crimes involved alcohol, a figure which rose to about 80% on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Police also warned that if they adopt a “get tough” approach to petty crime that people would have to be prepared for the consequences of the move.

Canterbury police district commander Superintendent Dave Cliff: “If one of your children is breaching the liquor ban we are going to have to take consistent action.”

I think that comment highlights that the “crime story” is more interlinked and complicated than is often portrayed. It will take society-wide action to fix and we (especially parents) can’t point the finger and then expect leniency over our own “special circumstances”.

I was also interested in the comments from Penal reform campaigner Nigel Hampton QC, who said the media over-reported violent and sexual crime and distorted the perception of how violent New Zealand was. Hampton said Christchurch was a safe place to live and he accused the media of letting interest groups use them. Which to be fair is the point Nicky Wagner was trying to make before the hype set in!

8 comments on “Two stories on crime in Christchurch”

  1. Poor Nicky probably got a stern talking to about being on-message – especially important given the deals the Nats have cut with the Sensible Sentencing Trust and Family First to parallel-campaign on their behalf…

  2. ghostwhowalks 2

    Reporting of crime is cheap.
    So crime is used as fillersby theses declining media
    – newspapers have falling ( fully paid) circulations.
    -the evening news on TV has half the audience of 10-12 years ago,
    the massive numbers of radio stations using the US Clear Channel format lots of ads lots of crime all the time.
    Especially TV , can have someone with 6 months experience do a voice to air standing outside courtroom/police station/crime scene and say only 120 words in total.
    The usual penetrating question from the news host begins: What can you tell us….

    The only thing that can push the crime out of the headlines, is a natural disaster, which has its own formula. Every day the numbers dead are escalated

  3. If anyone doesnt think Chch has a crime problem they are kidding themselves. All you have to do is walk the central city streets at night, or course you have to watch out for the flying bottles from cars and the morons who like to try smash up bus stops or worse threaten to kill ya if ya dont give them money.

  4. Lew 4

    Brett Dale: I was in Christchurch just tonight, walking the streets of the central city, as you say. Nothing whatever out of the ordinary, despite fairly healthy volumes of people out boozing. Just like Wellington, really. Didn’t get hit by any flying bottles, or even missed by any, the only people who asked me for money were bartenders, and the closest I got to a death threat was some guys talking about how they hate their boss outside The Bard.

    Since anecdote appears to be your stock-in-trade, this must be ironclad proof, right?


    Captcha: persistent is. Yes, very persistent is.

  5. Spend six months living in this city and you will know what I mean, or just by the chch press and read the letters to the Editors. You will find a lot of chch people have anecdotes as you call them.

    I have got friends and relatives who have come back from living overseas and they cannot get over how bad the youth crime has become.

    So call it an anecdote you like, but its getting, worse.

  6. Lew 6

    Sorry Brett, this is bullshit. I’ve asked you before not to lecture me on the media; I’m quite familiar with the tackback-and-letters-to-the-editor opinions on the state of crime in the city. For what it’s worth, it’s the same in Wellington; some days you’d think it’s a war zone.

    It’s not the Viet Nam War – you can’t get away with `You weren’t there maan, so you don’t know!’ As I said on another thread, get back to me when you have anything other than bitter, unprovable talking points and perhaps we’ll be able to have an actual discussion.


  7. Ben R 7

    “call it an anecdote you like, but its getting, worse.”

    Well, isn’t reported violent crime in Christchurch up 29% since 2003? As some have pointed out that is partly attributable to greater reporting of domestic violence.

    A female cousin who recently finished studying there felt it was not particularly safe after dark.

    Obviously NZ is still relatively safe compared to most places overseas. I think its the random unprovoked attacks that tend to shock people the most. There was one particularly vicious one in Newtown late last year where a group attacked some guy coming home in the early hours for no apparent reason. Statistically, it’s unlikely to happen but the fact it does happen here is still scary. Things like that wreck peoples lives.

  8. Lew:

    As you aware most minor crimes dont get reported, all I can tell you is that the city is quite bad at night, and I can not in my lifetime ever remember it being like this under any government.

    The city is a complete junk yard on Saturday morning, Its just a bad look, thankfully we finally got rid of a Mayor who turned his back on the problem and now we have one who understands that the good people of Christchurch are sick of it.

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