Christchurch is drowning in a 'culture of violence', says Cr Aaron Keown - but the statistics don't back up his claim.
I'm writing this post from my barricaded house, somewhere in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch , where I'm ready to defend myself from the mindless hordes who want to bash me for no apparent reason, or possibly for wearing a loud shirt in a built up area during the hours of darkness.
According to Cr Aaron Keown, Christchurch is drowning in a 'culture of violence' and we must be prepared for action, pitchforks at the ready.
Keown, who unfortunately happens to be one of my ward councillors, has been in the media demanding an end to Christchurch's 'culture of violence'. He has been spurred into 'action' by the assault on the New Zealand international cricketer Jessie Ryder
Keown, along with Mayor Bob Parker, attended a 'candlelight vigil' for Ryder outside Christchurch Hospital. Given Keown's concern about violence in Christchurch he will be no doubt be attending further candlelight vigils for victims of unprovoked assaults outside Christchurch bars. I'm sure Bob Parker will be there as well, especially if the media are in attendance.
Keown told the media : 'I am really upset this has happened in our city and it is a really bad image for Christchurch. Good Friday is meant to be a day of peace and the whole country will be looking at Christchurch and saying, 'If a cricket player can't go out with his mates and not be assaulted then what is going on?'
Yes, we must make Christchurch safe for minor sporting celebrities!
Keown went on to declare that he wants people to tackle the ' culture of violence in Christchurch' and that violent acts were happening far too often in Christchurch. I'm not sure what Keown wants people to do. Organise themselves into vigilante groups perhaps? Summary executions in Cathedral Square?
Thundered Keown: "It's a little too regular for my liking. The fact that this happens at all is unacceptable; the fact that it may happen every few weeks is truly heartbreaking. Something has to be done about our violent culture.'
But if he had bothered to check the facts rather than grandstand in the media, he would of discovered that Christchurch is no more violent that any of New Zealand's other major metropolitan centres.
In fact in 2009 Christchurch police statistics recorded 100 violent offences per 10,000 population – lower than Wellington, Auckland, South Auckland, Hamilton and Dunedin – making it the country's safest large city.
Police Christchurch Central Area Controller Inspector Derek Erasmus commented that: "Many perceptions about safety in Christchurch are not based on fact,"
He went on to say that incidents of serious violence were highlighted by local media, yet there were fewer than in other major centres.
The media had a big influence on people's perception of their safety,' Erasmus said.
And the level of overall crime has significantly decreased since the big quakes. Levels of violent crime have remained largely static: For example, in 2011-12, police attended 10 cases of sexual assaults and related offences and 11 cases of abduction and harassment across the city. The numbers are similar to the past two years, when police responded to 11 sexual assaults and related offences in 2009-10 and eight in 2010-11.
So the statistics don't actually back up Keown's claim (and the majority of talkback callers) that Christchurch is drowning in a 'culture of violence'. All Keown has done is help perpetuate an odious myth about Christchurch and its people.
But this is the same councillor who, in 2011, attacked earthquake victims in the eastern suburbs for 'whining for not being helped' and said recently that Gerry Brownlee was doing 'a good job'.