Thursday, June 28, 2012

Queen Street--- a disgrace!

Our largest city Auckland has a dirty rotten underworld of drunkenness, theft and danger for all who go there after hours. Many of us have seen the news items about Queen Street ‘after hours.’ It is a blot on our reputation as a city of sails and fun. We have a wonderful city that is fast earning a reputation of having areas in the inner city where it is just not safe to go.
This has come about because of drunken revellers and others who plague tourists and young students through their disgusting and often criminal behaviours. I doubt that many Aucklanders over 40 would even bother to visit the city now, in the wee small hours.
For the criminally inclined and the drunken louts it is paradise. They get to fight, vomit, urinate and assault both one another and those visiting the city. For the unwary tourist, it is most advisable that they do not frequent Queen Street, after mid-night.
How have things got to this stage; to where Japanese tourists are now being advised to avoid the area. Is it because we have the culture of binge drinking to be an acceptable part of our culture? Is it because the courts are unable to keep a hold on unsociable behaviour and that the ‘consequences’ dished out to ‘party-goers’ are totally non-consequential?
I leave you to ponder those questions. I do however suggest that the answer to the problem exists in the form of policy changes and technological and policing responses. It is said that the UK is the most heavily ‘watched’ people on earth. There are more CCTV surveillance cameras than anywhere else on the planet. They too have some damned awful problems with over indulgent drinkers, creating havoc on their streets. I am not sure that their response is much better than here, so we have to look at the possibilities of extending the surveillance here and having more effective responses.
We could take the example of ‘Boy racers,’ in NZ cities and the heavier handed response from the police and various councils. Am I correct in saying that there seems to be a little less mayhem from that group now? It is still a problem, but it is not getting quite the coverage it used to. Perhaps they have toned things down.
Let us see the same effort put into making our streets safer, not just at night but at all times. The cameras needed for such surveillance have become far more efficient and much cheaper. To follow through on the scenarios being enacted on our streets we need an efficient, well-resourced team of police and security officers, tasked with cleaning up the danger spots. We do not want to simply move them on--- we need to deal to them. It is NOT acceptable to allow the issues as described above to continue.
If we take these morons off the street and let them spend a very uncomfortable night in designated cells, then they may well curb some of their behaviours. Stiff fines can add to the pressure on them to change their ways.
I know this sounds very old fashioned, but what else will work? Do you want me to ‘counsel them?’ Come on--- get real. A quick no nonsense reminder in the form of a nasty night or two in the cells with the accompanying appearance in a ‘night court’ and fine should knock off a few of the culprits who would normally behave in an acceptable manner--- when they are sober. They need to be reminded that it is their choice to get drunk and that they are responsible for their actions.
For the recidivist offenders, we may need something else, but we cannot continue to ignore this blight on our beautiful cities and reputation. It is not just for the safety of our tourists, but also for those of us (the majority) who would like to claim back our streets.