Tuesday, 22 July 2008

policing policy

and in news just in, the human rights commission has come up with an answer thanx to a loophole for charitable benefits. so any of you rich women out there wanting to set up a scholarship fund in your will are free to have that scholarship available to women only. this nicely gets around the whole debate about whether or not women are a marginalised minority, especially when it comes to university education. hmm.

and for those of you into redemption and forgiveness, i guess the police association policy wishlist (aka "what cops want") is not for you:
* Adequate funding of the Government's new Organised and Financial Crime Agency;
* urgent passage of the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Bill;
* investigation of the effectiveness of British-style anti-social behaviour orders;
* allowing police to issue temporary "on-the-spot" domestic violence protection orders;
* lowering the age of criminal responsibility to bring 12 and 13-year-olds within the jurisdiction of the Youth Court;
* keeping 17-year-olds in adult courts;
* introducing mandatory third-party vehicle insurance;
* raising police numbers to match Queensland's police to population ratio by 2015;
* introducing changes to discourage vexatious private prosecutions of officers;
* giving police automatic name suppression in cases where they are being prosecuted for the use of lethal force.

all of the above, plus tasers, a reversal of the new bail laws, and more.

actually, there are a couple there that i could agree with - funding for the organised-crime agency, temporary "on-the-spot" protection orders. there are others i could live with, like third-party vehicle insurance (although it will make it more difficult for young people to own cars) and name-suppression during cases against police officers using lethal force (i'm generally not into trial-by-media).

but on the increase in overall police numbers, not for me. looking at the figures, nz has about 504 police per 10,000 people. the comparable figure for the UK is around 493 per 10,000 people. yet, there were 52 murders* in london alone in the six month period between april and september last year. so i'd say that numbers of police officers in itself is not a solution to crime-reduction, although there is a case for greater numbers in particular parts of the country. i'd think more community policing, with stronger community involvement, would be a much more effective approach to crime-reduction.

i'm not at all convinced about tasers, and ASBO's "have the potential ... to overtly criminalize poverty and homelessness", so definitely not a good idea. and hardline stances on youth criminal offending seem to be a recipe for creating more hardened adult criminals. i remember hearing a youth court judge saying that the worst thing you could do with teenage offenders was put them into an institution with other teenage offenders.

as for bail laws, while i can understand the frustration when those on bail commit a crime, i still can't agree to the overall notion that someone should spend months in jail when they may or may not have committed a crime. how can you jail someone for several months simply for being a suspect, unless you have a damn good reason?

all in all, sounds like what the police association wants is a police state. hardly surprising. i can appreciate the difficulty of the work they do, and am all for providing police the support they need to do their job, but the wishlist is just a little too much for me.


Julie said...

Idiot Savant doesn't pull any punches on the Police Association wishlist, labelling it "self-serving knee-jerk authoritarianism".

I found Kyle Matthews' comment on a PA System thread about domestic violence quite enlightening, in terms of police attitudes to crime:

Ben R said...

"how can you jail someone for several months simply for being a suspect, unless you have a damn good reason?"

You do need a good reason - see section 8 of the Bail Act 2000, particularly subsection 2.

Also, more police was shown to be a significant factor in the reduction in US crime rates through the 90's.
( Steven Levitt, Journal of Economic Perspectives 18: 163–190)


Ben R said...

"a reversal of the new bail laws"

Sorry, will read more carefully in future.