Enjoy your long weekend? Susan Ryder did.
Long weekends are great for those of us who get to enjoy them and I’ve always loved Labour Weekend in particular, especially when I was younger, especially because I have a birthday at this time of year. I still love the holiday; still love the birthday, too; only more the celebration these days than the change of number. Goodness knows who I offended in the interim, though, because the gods seemed determined to upset my applecart this year.
Firstly, circumstances conspired to prevent me from attending my own party some 500km away on Sunday afternoon. Pity, because it was destined to be a cracker with seven birthdays from the 19th to the 30th celebrating a combined 400+ years at a lovely place in the country near the Kapiti Coast. I’m told that a terrific time was had by all, so I’ll have to finagle an invitation for next year. (And if any miserable sod has stopped to do the maths, I must point out that the others were loads older than me!)
But that’s not what I’m writing about. On Saturday morning, my parents awoke to find their front lawn destroyed.
They’ve spent the last few months re-landscaping their whole property. “She’s a pretty big job” as my wee Mitre 10 mate from New Zealand’s greatest ever television commercial would sagely say. On Friday, they spent hours cutting and laying the rolls of new grass. My nephews helped, too, their primary school being closed for the day. So it was a hell of a shock the next morning to pull back the living room drapes to admire their handiwork and see anything but. During the night, vandals had hopped over the low fence and torn everything up, throwing it all over the place and stomping on gardens in the process. I happened to ring shortly after they’d discovered the mess.
“Ring the police!” I said, amid a few choice epithets.
“What for?” said Mum. “They never turn up for things like this anymore!”
“Well, I realise that” I replied. “But it’s to register the damage, otherwise they can’t know. And the bastards may well have damaged other properties along the way. ”
To be fair, my mother was put through to a decent chap. During the conversation she learned that her call to the local police station had been automatically rerouted to Palmerston North, the local station being closed until today. He was courteous and sympathetic, but there was little he could do except to record the complaint and advise her to make a statement at her local station after the long weekend.
It’s pertinent that my parents’ home is on a main road – State Highway 1 in fact – and well lit. Traffic is constant right throughout the night, which is likely why the vandals weren’t heard. Worryingly, this blatant crime also gives credence to the suspicions of many residents in smaller locations that nightly police patrols are virtually non-existent, a sentiment with which my sister has recent experience in the same town.
A couple of weeks ago she and her husband were awoken at 1.30am by a crowd of people making a hell of a noise out on the footpath in front of their home on a quiet residential street. As far as she could ascertain, the crowd was trying to uproot the street sign on the corner – as you do in the early hours of a weekday morning. They didn’t want their young children to wake up frightened, or the crowd to get any ideas of further trespass upon their property or those of their neighbours, so rang the same police station to request an urgent call-out. Unfortunately, the man she spoke with wasn’t quite as concerned as the police officer in Palmerston North.
“How many of them are there?” he enquired.
“Well, I can’t say exactly! But there’s quite a few out there and we want them to go – now!”
“What do they look like? Can you describe them?” he persisted.
“Oh, for God’s sake!” she said, “I’m peering out of my window through the trees into the darkness and I don’t want to draw attention to myself. All I can tell you is that they’re wearing hoods, there are a lot of them, they’re making a racket and it’s really scary.”
I certainly wouldn’t have been so polite. I’d have asked him if he would prefer that I put on my dressing gown and slippers and pop out with the phone and let him have a personal chat to get the bloody details! In spite of this occurring no more than one kilometre from the police station, nobody ever showed up or followed up. Finally frustrated in their efforts to fully upend the street sign, the crowd contented themselves with hauling out some shrubs from a neighbouring property before eventually buggering off.
This sort of nuisance property crime occurs all too often – and is ignored all too often. We can date political unconcern back to the 1980s when former Police Minister Ann Hercus said that she was only worried about violent crime, a point previously noted on this blog. I wonder if she ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point that subsequently proved the wisdom of nipping minor crime in the bud. In spite of all the predictable talk prior to every election, no Police Minister has acted differently since.
So now we have Judith Collins, who recently made headlines with her potential get-tough policy with nuisance motorists. I’d like to draw Ms Collins’s attention to the ongoing neglect of authority toward property crime and policing in general. And I’d like to know what she’s going to do about it.
The elephant in the sitting room is, of course, several decades of excessive state welfare where losers are paid to screw losers with no regard for the consequences including ensuing children. But it’s no use expecting any reform in that department. I say that based on a letter I received from Social Development Minister Paula Bennett last week, an excerpt of which I forwarded to welfare activist Lindsay Mitchell who compared it with comments made by Labour’s Steve Maharey when he held the portfolio, to discover that it was virtually identical in sentiment.
With regard to policing priorities, there’s this little gem to finish with.
Getting out of Wellington is a slow form of torture every Friday afternoon, but holiday weekends are the proverbial nightmare. After contending with the build-up at Paremata, there is the obligatory crawl through Paraparaumu and Waikanae as a result of the Kapiti Coast District Council digging in its dark green heels to prevent construction of the western bypass – (see Opinionated Mummy and Liberty Scott for full and frightful details of that) – before grinding to a halt at the Otaki roundabout.
Levin lies a further 15 minutes north. From that point the worst is usually behind you and it’s a decent run, weather/crashes permitting. Foolishly thinking that they might start to make progress, northbound motorists on SH1 last Friday evening faced a further hold-up at Levin’s southern entrance. Adding insult to injury, four police cars – yes, four of them – were stationed with jovial officers checking for current warrants and registration. They were still happily doing this at 7pm and heaven only knows when they finished. I guess Bill English won’t be grizzling about it, though. I bet he scored a nice little earner out of it. But then he probably wasn’t stuck in that traffic jam, either.
These would be the same cops who don’t seem to patrol the town streets at night anymore and who don’t seem to give a damn about property crime at all, let alone its effect upon victims.
Lord knows I struggle with the concept of tax at the best of times, but surely some decent policing is not too much to expect for what we’re forced to continually hand over. There are countless stories like this one and it’s not bloody good enough. The last government couldn’t have given a continental about property crime (the glaring exception being the attack on Helen Clark’s electoral office), so I’d like to know what John Key’s much vaunted “broad church” is going to do about it.
I’m all ears, Judith Collins.
* * Susan Ryder is Libertarianz Sus, Read her column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *