While the media focused on this one incidence of burglary, no one asked the critical questions. What is the driver behind burglary? What encourages this income-producing crime?
The core factors not being identified are alienation from rule of law (rejection of social values) and expenditures on drugs (not the drugs themselves) in a context of constrained licit earnings.
There is some irony then that Dr Megan Woods PhD (History) and education spokesperson for the Progressive Party headed by drug czar and local MP Jim Anderson is the one burgled. Jim has long been critiqued for his long held beliefs that it is the illicit drugs that cause these crimes. The issue here is not that there is empirical evidence Megan's unfortunate experience was caused by a drug taker/consumer (though likely) rather that it brings into perspective salient issues surrounding community safety and perceptions of crime.
The Christchurch Star newspaper in its front page news item and enclosed Mayoralty analysis (pretending this writer/candidate didn't exist) quoted candidate Bob Parker "There is a feeling of real insecurity, especially at night. That is not the way it used to be. The crime figures are at a reasonably high level, there are some real examples of violence and intimidation, but it is about perception".
Bob is right, it is not the way it used to be, and Megan as a student of history would likely agree. Crime data evidences that the wheels started to fall off about 40 years ago, around the date of the adoption of the Misuse of Drugs Act (1975). That is why this mayoral candidate calls for a full and unfettered engagement on civic ALL drug policy, to “spark an open and honest discussion about the criminal justice system’s inability to create the result that we all want: reducing the damage done by drugs while not creating more harm than the use of the drugs themselves.”
It is contingent upon all of us to resolve these tensions. It is the stuff of social capital.
Drug policy, covering both alcohol and the currently illicit drugs, ought to be a major component of a rational crime control strategy, and crime control ought to be one of the dominant themes in designing drug policy. But none of the slogans now dominating the drug policy debate is adequate to the complex reality linking drugs, drug policy, and predatory crime. Only if we start to think more clearly can we start to act more wisely. / Mark Kleiman, Professor of Policy Studies at