Mandatory minimums the answer to drunken thuggery
It was recently revealed that the Victorian Labor Government employs “a small army” of media minders and spin-meisters. But Brumby’s battalions of PR hacks cannot deny the undeniable fact that crime rages out of control.
The evidence is right there in front of us. Our TV screens and newspapers are filled with stories of the street violence that is seemingly an everyday occurrence in Victoria.
It has gotten so bad that even the police are intimidated by the marauding thugs who have come to rule our streets.
It was recently reported that the Victorian Police have been ordered to patrol downtown Melbourne in groups of no less than three in order to protect themselves against attack. Through no fault of their own, the police are no longer our protectors, but have become our fellow victims.
If thugs don’t fear the law, it’s for good reason. Former Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon implemented a ‘softly softly’ approach to policing that elevated political correctness above tough law enforcement. Nixon wielded far too much carrot and far too little stick.
Consider the pathetic response to the epidemic violence that each weekend has turned the Melbourne CBD into an active combat zone. Rather than serious criminal prosecution for serious acts of thuggery, Nixon established a ‘time out’ zone where belligerent drunks could sober up before going on their merry way.
Just recently, a brutal attack on a police officer generated a flurry of discussion over whether such offenses should automatically generate a term of incarceration. But the fact that there had to be a debate at all is a symptom of how weak-kneed our criminal justice system has become.
The Police Association has demanded mandatory prison terms for those who deem it appropriate to use police as punching bags. I suspect that the silent majority of Victorians agrees. Yet the state Labor Government continues to reject measures to protect police from abuse and assault.
The need for mandatory minimum prison sentences is yet another symptom of the collapse of law and order in Victoria. For almost a decade, the State Labor Government has been stacking the Victorian judiciary with soft-Left judges who bend over backwards to avoid sending predators to gaol.
Paedophiles receive outrageously lenient sentences in Victorian courts, while street thugs get slaps on the wrist. As a result, we can no longer trust our criminal justice system to protect us from those who would victimise the innocent.
Yet while John Brumby has been absent-without-leave on the surge of violence that has inundated Victoria, others have tried to step into the breach. Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle has pleaded for the authority to close troublesome entertainment venues and AFL team captains have publicly called for an end to “booze-fueled street violence.”
I applaud Mayor Doyle and the footy captains for their initiative. It shows that at least someone is trying to do something. But for all their noble intentions, neither the Melbourne Lord Mayor, nor the AFL, have the ability to deal decisively with Victoria’s crime plague. The power to address this problem – and the attendant responsibility to do so – resides exclusively with the Victorian Government.
While the regulation of liquor licences and venue closing times is important, it isn’t enough. The nub of this problem revolves around the basic principles of crime and punishment. We don’t need ‘time out’ zones, or other post-modern fads from university criminology departments.
What we need is a return to no-nonsense methods of law enforcement that are supported by no-nonsense standards of criminal punishment.
Under New York’s Mayor Rudi Gulliani, time-honoured policing strategies complemented by hi-tech computer analysis combined to cut crime by 50 per cent. With the proper policies there is no reason why we can’t enjoy similar results here in Victoria.
In the final equation, it all revolves around personal responsibility. The community has had a gut full of this ongoing cycle of violence that is fueled by soft criminal sentencing, early prison release and an apparent contempt for both the law and their fellow Victorians.
Enough is enough. It’s time for some old-fashioned deterrence. And nothing will get the attention of Victoria’s street brawlers like sending them and their mates to prison.
The Victoria Police surely suffer from a personnel shortage and certainly could use better equipment. But more than anything, our cops need backup from a tough judicial system that will put away the thugs they catch and keep them behind bars.
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