Simply putting more cops on the beat won't combat the real causes of crime - but that's the answer of Labour leader Andrew Little.

THIS WEEK THE IMF announced that New Zealand was the most expensive place to live in the developed world. Woo hoo. It's quarterly global housing watch report reveals that New Zealand outpaced thirty other developed countries when house prices were compared with income during the first quarter of this year. This is a 'first' that the corporate media won't be getting very gung-ho about.

Coincidentally, this week statistics were released that showed crime is on the rise, with a surge in burglaries over the past year contributing to most of that rise. Burglaries are up some 12 percent.

Crime has social roots. With more and more folk caught in a trap of welfare cutbacks, joblessness, low wages and spiraling housing costs , it hardly takes a genius to work out that such economic deprivation will result in desperate people turning to crime.

It was Aristotle who said 'poverty is the partner of crime'.

But the Minister of Police, Judith Collins, thinks she knows better than Aristotle. In what can only be described as a blatant appeal to prejudice and bigotry, Collins attempted to scapegoat immigrants as responsible for the crime increase.

 "It's pretty clear to me that if you have more people you have more opportunities for things like burglaries.."

Her response has been to simply claim that all home burglaries will be treated as priority offences, (apparently they weren't before) - and all break-ins will be attended by police.

A progressive political party and its leader would perhaps suggest that housing is a key component in the fight against crime. All the research shows that sustained reductions in crime are built on a foundation of decent and affordable housing for all.

The reaction of Labour leader Andrew Little though has been to argue that a lack of police officers has been the main reason there has been a rise in burglaries, robberies and assaults.

Said Little : "When you have a growing population, as we have here, it makes sense - you have got to add your police numbers to keep pace with what's going on."

But  tackling the lack of affordable housing, poverty and deprivation would do more to cut crime than simply putting more cops on the beat.

A wider and longer term fight against crime would entail challenging an economic system that breeds poverty and alienation.

As Friedrich Engels wrote some 150 years ago: 'Present day society, which breeds hostility between the individual and everyone else, produces a social war of all against all, which inevitably in individual cases assumes a brutal form-crime.'

The real crimes are being committed by an economic system that rewards the ruthless but punishes the weak. But no one is talking about that. Andrew Little certainly isn’t.


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