Sunday, November 15, 2009

Effect of police over-enthusiasm

More people are escaping conviction for assault. The hand-wringers are outraged. My sense of what is going on, based on court visits, is, however, encapsulated by this comment from someone far better placed to know;

Wellington barrister Robert Lithgow said the rise came from police putting more trivial matters before the court, which didn't justify the stigma of a conviction. "The courts are saying this is out of all proportion."

That is right and proper. But while the court system is already so over-burden with serious cases, this required over-enthusiasm on the part of the police creates another problem of itself. People unnecessarily hauled before the courts and the ensuing considerable wasting of time and resources is the result of the ongoing anti-violence campaigns and, more recently, the anti-smacking law. There is an analogy about what government does with legislation. Trying to solve a problem (in this case family violence) is like squeezing a semi-inflated balloon. The air is simply moved from one area to another.

Was this new problem covered off in the Ministry of Social Development review into how the anti-smacking law is working in practice? I don't think so.

No comments: