I found myself agreeing with much that Judith Collins was saying on Q&A regarding our crime statistics. While good policing probably has made a positive difference to crime there is an on going problem with an element of police culture which needs to be resolved and she is quite right to expect that this should happen. Drug and alcohol rehabilitation would also make a huge difference, but it is just a pity that stronger controls over the sales and advertising of alcohol couldn't have supported such initiatives. The high expectations placed on the private prison sounds good too, but if this prison is expected to deliver on expectations, and make a profit, I can see cuts will be made in the pay and conditions of staff. Private residential homes for our elderly ensure profits buy employing non-qualified staff and having minimal employment conditions and private prisons have an international reputation for the same. While removing cigarettes from prisons makes sense on one level, the potential for black markets and increased violence must also be a consequence. I find for every seemingly reasonable statement that the Minister made, the reality behind them provided cause for concern.
It is only when we compare our crime and imprisonment figures with other countries in the OECD that we really see where we stand internationally and despite the recent drop in crime, our imprisonment figures are disturbing. Our rate of incarceration is still second only to the United States and at an annual cost of $91,000 per prisoner I am surprised that this isn't a focus of future savings rather than beneficiaries.
Surely it is addressing our appalling inequities of income, providing support for struggling families and quality early childhood education that will truly make a difference to crime statistics. If our young children have a good start in life there is a good likelihood that they will become capable, resilient adults and contribute positively to society.
Tough action on cigarettes and a private prison is not going to make a difference!