If you live in the wonderful city of Auckland, ‘City of Sails,’ you better have good ‘contents’ insurance because there is little likelihood of the police ever solving a crime against you and your property. The NZ Herald this morning quoted 8% as the successful prosecution rate for burglary in our fair city.
The figures for solving ‘more serious crime’ were much better; 100% for murder and over 60% for assault and other serious crime. So what happens when your house is the target for one of these low-life thieves? You will be extremely lucky if the police come when you ring them and even then, the chances of anyone actually been caught and taken to court are next to nothing.
Why is this? The official answer is that the police are concentrating on more serious crime. That is not good enough! Surely if we catch criminals at this so-called lower end crime, then they may not go on to commit the higher end crimes. The excuse is often given that it is a question of ‘funding.’
Successive governments have promised action, but they rarely do more than tinker around the edges, fudging the figures to make themselves look good to the elaborate. Any real drop in some crime figures is more to do with the changing demographic figures for NZ society--- that is--- we are an aging society and the connection is one of---older people commit less crime. No government can claim this as ‘their’ success.
The bottom line is that people are sick of inaction and they are starting to find their own solutions. They are finding out who ‘broke in to their homes,’ and posting pictures on sites like YouTube. This requires some expense on their part but ‘naming and shaming’ is being used to expose these creeps who have assailed us for so long. The technological means are there for us to use, and they are becoming increasingly easier to find and use. Specialist firms will be coming up with ‘easy to use’ and installation methods of surveillance. Then it is a matter of identifying the perpetrators and letting us all know who they are.
Will this lead to a backlash from civil rights spokespersons? I am sure it will, because there is a delicate balance between protecting your rights and those of possible criminals. I am certain there will be mistakes and that will raise the ire of the afore mentioned group, but the vast majority of us are sick of the strong possibility of coming home from an event or outing, to find our homes ransacked and devoid of our precious belongings, some of which cannot be replaced through insurance. Yesterday Sonny-Bill Williams (a famous NZ rugby player) was a victim—so it affects us all.
Of course, those living in lower socio-economic areas will not be able to employ the electronic surveillance technology to the same extent and they will continue to be victims. Perhaps stronger neighbourhood- watch groups will be helpful. My area of Auckland has a very strong group.
At governmental level, the question must be asked: How do we prioritise spending to address the high level of crime? Like decisions around health and education spending, there is no easy answer. Any real improvement needs to be funded and that raises the electorally dangerous question of raising taxes! We don’t want to hear politicians using promises to ‘break the back of criminal activity,’ wish harsher punishments and longer prison terms, but then conveniently not actually commit to real action once they have captured the treasury benches..
So--- until they do---- we will find ways to protect our homes and families. As technology becomes more accessible, then expect more of this ‘take it into my own hands’ response to an old problem.