Tougher law to deal with youth crime

Issue 366 April 1, 2017 – 

Increasing incidents of robbery, aggravated robbery, violence and other criminal offences witnessed in dairies, superettes, liquor stores and petrol service stations in Auckland in recent weeks are a cause for serious concern.

In a few cases, owners or workers at these retail outlets have been subject to brutal attacks. Many of them say that they live and work in fear, not knowing what the next moment or perpetrator may bring with them.

Anger towards Police

Rallies have been held, questions have been asked and issues have been raised over the past four weeks. Almost always, the anger is directed towards the Police and the government blaming both for inaction.

Much has been said about the rising violence perpetrated by young people, often leading to tragic consequences for retailers who go about their business with honesty and sincerity. They are law-abiding citizens, minding their own affairs.

Continued violence at retail outlets not only shake our confidence in the system but also in the government of the day, for, it is the duty of the leaders to protect people and ensure their safety and security.

True, such matters are the responsibility of the Police, who work independently, without fear or favour.

But even they are frustrated. They say that they do all the hard work, bring perpetrators to justice, only to find that the system is so soft that they return to the society a few years after being sentenced, only to reoffend.

There have been several instances of such re-offending, including murder.

Deterrent punishment

Much is also said about the parole board, which according to some victims or their families allows offenders the ‘joy of return.’ Often their very presence in a neighbourhood can be intimidating, which is why, there have been repeated requests for tougher sentences.

We are often told that crime has fallen in New Zealand in recent years and that the law has been tightened.

But often, perception is more important than fact, just as impression is, because, people need assurance that they are safe in the place of their work and residence, when they shop and when they return home. Parents remained worried until their children return home after school or university.

Statistics apart, unless the common people genuinely feel safe, laws and those enforcing them would not be successful.

Swift Justice

Discussion is extremely important in a democracy, for views on issues relating to crime, its containment and the need for a justice system that is swift and fair to the victims cannot be over-emphasised.

While the lawmakers and law enforcers would indubitably continue to do their job, it is important to realise one inescapable fact: that deterrent punishment reduces the incidence of crime. Which is why, even the US, which prides itself of fair and free justice, has death penalty in vogue in some states.

We are aware that New Zealand would not consider re-visiting its antipathy towards capital punishment, but it is time that the need for public safety is addressed through a more robust justice system that at least provides for tougher sentences and more important, a more rigid regime of enforcing them.

Criminals and perpetrators should never be allowed near a civilised society.

And sooner a law that forbids import, sale and use of firearms, narcotic and mind-altering drugs and sale of alcohol beyond certain hours, is enforced, the better.

We cannot allow ugly incidents in our dairies, superettes, liquor stores and other retail outlets any longer.

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