Saturday, September 17, 2022

Mike Butler: A modest ram-raid proposal

Another Saturday, yet another ram-raid, this time at Liquorland in Mount Wellington, Auckland.(1) Of course it is too early to see whether the Better Pathways plan to send ram-raiders aged under 14 years to a social well-being board for wrap-around support but no one is holding their breath for that to work.

Ram-raiding by children is evidence that the administration of law and order in New Zealand has malfunctioned and, in this instance, police, courts, and politicians have all failed.

Can this problem be solved? Any attempt to stop youth ramraiding faces two issues: Who pays for bollards and damage to shops and loss of stock, and what sort of consequences should the young perpetrators face?

Who pays? Currently, insurance and shop-owners pay. Shop owners take out insurance, pay high premiums, and are required to install costly bollards and security cameras at their expense. Insurance pays for repairs while the shop owner pays the excess.

Bollards keep small cars out, according to security camera footage at a Four Square in Manurewa a few weeks ago. The set-up cost the store owner $100,000.(2) His insurer required it.

Bollards could be installed at all shops right now if councils immediately give consent and if central government pays, and if workers were available to do the work.

An immediate step in this direction by a competent government would be to install and pay for bollards at every ramraided shop immediately after the event.

Central government should pay because it is a law-and-order issue, the government has claimed sole responsibility for maintaining law and order, and in this instance, the police, the courts, and the politicians, have all failed.

What consequences should the young offenders face?

Police Minister Chris Hipkins’ promise of wrap-around support shows there are still no consequences for young ram-raiders. This means that there is no deterrent, and the twin rewards of spoils and fame mean that offenders will re-offend.

Locked up, ram-raiders cannot ram-raid. The witless catch-and release process ends. As all are caught, the ramraids stop.

Here it gets tricky and all sorts or arguments are used to give the young perpetrators a free pass.

It hasn’t always been like this, and it was not so long ago that caning and strapping in school gave young mischief-makers a painful experience of a consequence that may, later, give that mischief-maker cause to pause.

Having said that, there are consequences in law for young offenders but few seem willing to implement them.

In New Zealand, children aged 10 to 13 years old can be charged with serious offences but cannot be convicted of an offence unless they knew the act or omission to be wrong or contrary to law.

The fact that these young perpetrators brag on social media about their raids can serve as evidence that they know such actions are against the law.

Under Section 269 of the Crimes Act, the sentence for intentional damage, such as ram-raiding, either with or without intending to obtain a benefi,t is up to seven years jail.

Ram-raiders should lose their freedom for a period of time.

Children aged 10 to 13 should be in school. That loss-of-freedom could be spent locked-up at a boarding school for offenders which includes practical courses on the skills needed to repair the sort of damage they caused.

That might prepare them for a job someday.

Or it might prepare some for a life of crime, as “no boundaries” types will argue, but the bad ones were probably going to do so anyway. Others will have a taste of consequences for their actions and will never do it again.

Once the ram-raiders are taken out of circulation, convenience stores and malls the length and breadth of New Zealand will be able to carry out their business knowing that each morning they will arrive at work knowing that their store will be intact.


1. Adults teaching children how to steal,

2.Would-be thieves foiled,


Robert Arthur said...

Early 19th century England maintained reasonable law and order by harsh punishment without a police force. Many of the The crimes which earned transport to Australia were remarkably minor. But it controlled crime at home and the descendants of the offenders in Australia seem better behaved on avergae than those of tangata whenua here and exported. Punishment worked for offender and offended against. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned.

Tinman said...

Insurance companies and shop owners may hand over the initial cash but this money doesn't just magically appear. The people who pay are customers or, if some of your ideas are acted upon, the poor bloody tax payer.

If this fact is repeatedly put in front of the public I suspect the desire to punish perpetrators will become a popular measure, particularly politically.

Keith said...

The sooner all older cars that are simple to break into and jumpstart are off the road the better. You never see a BMW or a Ford Ranger stolen for ram raids.

terry handcock said...

a guy told me a few years ago when he was 13yrs old he was sent to borstall in the 1970s for burgulary. borstall was a farm where he stayed for 2 yrs. i asked if it did him any good and he said he never offended again. today he would be nurtured by the system until he was old enough to go to the big jail.we had a system that worked then dismantled it and surprise surprise we are at where we are today.

Keith said...

Like the gun buy back we should buy back all the old clunkers that can be hotwired. You never hear of modern cars used in ram raids. Reductions in in insurance premiums and security costs would more than offset the buyback.

Barry H said...

Sadly, it's not just cars that are used in these robberies. There are several instances of jewellers having windows smashed and jewellery stolen by packs of thugs wielding iron bars - one in St Lukes mall last evening. Certainly the borstal type of punishment worked, as did compulsory military training, neither of which our current govt is likely to revisit.
If I owned a jewellery, liquor, high end products, or any likely target store, lawful or not I'd acquire an AK47, ready to fire, handy to grasp when these thugs turned up. It's unlikely I'd be required to fire however, if they didn't desist, I'd push the button and rid the justice system's need to deal with the scum likely to cost taxpayers millions for the rest of their pathetic, unworthy lives.

Empathic said...

Borstals, prisons, harsh punishment by the state will not work. Criminological research long ago established that there is poor correlation between harsher punishment and reduction in offending. I believe a more effective solution would be to implement policies encouraging families to stay together rather than the current incentivization of parental separation, and restoring legal authority of parents over children including reasonable use of force in punishment. Corporal punishment in schools also but implemented under behavioural psychology principles and tighter conditions than was historically the case. Much better for children to learn some fear of society's consequences in a relatively harmless way than to have to learn this as adults in a life-ruining way. The traumatic harm to children from parental separation is enormous on average and sole-parent upbringing is detrimental to children on average. The harm to children from current school practices of suspension and expulsion is much greater than any harm previously arising from corporal punishment. Suspension and expulsion are much more violent than corporal punishment. They tell the child (s)he is so worthless that (s)he doesn't deserve normal socialization whereas short and immediate punishment very often keeps the child in line and provides them with the security of uninterrupted schooling and contact with friends.