If you speak to former senior police officers, they will tell you they fear an outbreak similar to the drug wars of Mokbel, Williams and others in the 1990s and the bike gang wars in the 2000s.
The murder last week of a former bikie and convicted killer, in one of Melbourne’s most prestigious and famous suburbs barely 3 km from the heart of Melbourne’s CBD is an ominous sign.
What leads someone to flagrantly walk up in a well-lit area (albeit late at night,but maybe not for the nightclub scene) and brazenly shoot a person who is walking with another in what is a busy part of Melbourne?
Put aside the personal animosity and/or financial motives that encourage this type of brazen behaviour, it is a total disrespect of our laws that concerns us most. This disrespect has been brought about by very poor government policy at both the state and council levels. We have at all levels of government a soft-on-crime policy that simply encourages people to disrespect the law, the police, and worse, their fellow members of society.
And it is not just one bad policy decision but a combination of many that drives this behaviour. If you are shown that there are little or no consequences for breaching the law, then many bad actors will breach the law.
We now have this on a scale I have never seen before, and the last straw has been the Spent Convictions Act.
This is perhaps the craziest piece of legislation I have ever come across. Sure, spent convictions for minor offences, especially when committed whilst young, is good policy. But to allow a person convicted of a serious offence, violence, robbery/home invasion or fraud to apply for their convictions to be spent secretly is bad policy.
The hearings (if at all as a magistrate can act without a hearing) are private and only the Attorney General, Police Commissioner, and the convicted felon appear. But what is crazy is that not only does a victim of a crime have no say but it is a crime for that victim ever to mention the conviction.
So, a person who was beaten up by their husband has to endure that person living next door to them when they are released from jail and cannot say to anyone (without committing an offence) that they are petrified of living in the same street. They cannot even disclose their fears to a treating medical practitioner. Ditto for a sex offender. Whilst working for children, disclosures are allowed under the legislation; as we have seen recently in Queensland, sex offenders will game the system. And if you are a victim, you can say nothing!
Any criminal can apply to have their conviction spent (provided they spent no more than 5 years in jail.). Why worry about being caught if you can get your conviction spent. The policy is bad for public safety, accountability and recidivism prevention. It disregards victims’ rights and justice and will be exploited by criminals.
Then let us turn to raising the age of criminal responsibility. Initially it is being raised from 10 to 12 and then in 2027 to 14. We have all seen in the USA that children are capable of committing horrendous crimes through accessing firearms. We see the same here with knives and blunt objects. Worse, this simply encourages adults to use children (just under 14) to be criminal mules. They will invade homes, break into cars, sell drugs and set upon rival gang members with no fear of facing the criminal justice system. All to assist their adult controllers.
We have also had the crime of public drunkenness removed. This was a tool used by police to ensure public safety, including the safety of the drunken person. It was used sensibly. It got what could turn into an ugly situation into a controllable situation, often with the intoxicated person going into a lockup for a few hours and then being released.
We cannot have our streets full of drunken persons, young persons encouraged to commit crimes because of no recourse nor homeless, drug dealers and petty criminals. But this is happening. We can see it every day as you walk through the streets of Melbourne. And those charged with keeping our streets safe are losing the tools to do so.
I finish with the “safe injecting rooms”. This is council and state government policy that has ruined parts of Richmond and will do so in the CBD. It will encourage dealers, street prostitutes and all sorts of criminals to fill our streets. It will discourage people from visiting the CBD and be a disaster for local businesses.
Bad policy delivers bad results. Rather than being soft on crime as our politicians have shown to be, we should have zero tolerance for crime.