Written by Terry Hayes (concerned citizen)
I write to encourage a different approach to dealing with the perpetrators and victims of unprovoked violence which is often characterised by massive hits to the head and kicking while the victim is on the ground done by persons sometimes influenced by alcohol, drugs or both and who do it for pleasure, power or thrill.
There have been too many deaths, too many physical and psychological injuries too much family grief to continue with the current approach.
The perpetrators are hard to locate they disappear into the crowd and background of everyday life, when caught they are on bail (revolving door), conviction rarely equates the pain and suffering; in reported cases they seem more likely to result in good behaviour bonds and similar soft penalties. They are free to get on with their life. Meanwhile the victim is left to pick up pieces if he is lucky and in the worst cases families mourn or come to terms with their disabled child or sibling.
I propose that changes should be made to process, compensation, and sentencing where the victim has suffered physical or psychological trauma or died. In my view the changes I propose below should also apply to the security industry when it is evident that unnecessary force has been used.
In the first instance a new law would:
· Make the perpetrators responsible for all costs associated with their identification, capture and custody pre sentencing. Given the demands on Vicpol resources I would consider outsourcing this activity but understand this may be present too many challenges and obstacles. The recouping of costs would assist police resources. Benefit – it would encourage perpetrators to come forward quickly.
· Bail would be denied and sentencing would include a mandatory requirement for incarceration if convicted, though the period of incarceration would be variable. Benefit it would provide comfort to victim and family, and reset the tone of community intolerance towards unprovoked violence, and send a clear message to “thugs” in our communities.
· The perpetrator would be responsible for meeting the costs of the victim. This would be expressed through immediate sale of assets (post conviction) and garnisheeing of a percentage of future earnings for the term of the incapacity of the victim. The garnishee order should be structured to survive bankruptcy declarations. Death would be a settlement to the family. It is obvious that in most cases that funds raised through this process will be unlikely to meet victim costs but it will go part way and relieve even to a minimal amount pressure on State and victim resources. Funds would be collected by Victims of Crime processes and remitted as part of standard compensation arrangements. Benefits the perpetrator will be accountable for the trauma caused.
I think the community is tired of and sickened by what is occurring on our streets. I have been fortunate to travel a bit to Asia and Europe and sad to say I find parts of Melbourne to be the home of the worst of behaviour, with alcohol and drug infused violence. I no wowser and like a good nigh tout with a good few drinks but somehow we have gone off track, again sadly like some other cities in Aus. like Perth, Newcastle etc.
I noted with interested recently that law enforcers in Perth took a stand against “cage fighting” believing it encourages and desensitises young people to the effect of outright aggression towards others. Well done and even if sneered at by some or not “right minded” it is the beginning of a stand.
I think it must be difficult also for our young immigrants from countries where violence is pervasive to be persuaded that aggression against others is against our laws while it is in reality an unchecked daily event. At home violence was a means to an end why not here also …they have the example.
In might also now be time to look at the large venues where it would seem the average nong can get hold of “ice” and other similar drugs and ask if the nongs can get it easily why cannot venue security or Victoria police get a better grip.. It’s a bit embarrassing that one has probably got more chance of getting caught bringing an illegal grape into Victoria that selling illicit drugs in a night venue. I know the rhetoric about leaving the little guys alone, its all about the cartels and big guys but given the absence of success in curtailing the drug industry a bit of toughness with the smaller guys might have some impact and stop a few from going beserk in the community. And why not set up some punitive encouragement for venue owners to do their part and push it out…afterall employers more generally would be found wanting by Worksafe if they did not take steps to remove drugs from the workplace if they had suspicions they were there. Its all about small steps to get the setting right.
And while on the venues how many serious breaches of serving alcohol to the inebriated have occurred in the past few years. Too few I suspect. I reckon it should be part of the law reform to enable victims to sue venue owners where it is known the perpetrator was given alcohol when they were already beyond the limit (which would need some definition). Personal interest and money are attractive catalysts for behaviour change. I wait for the day a lawyer takes this line but it could be changed proactively before then with some prod from government and maybe save a few lives from being wrecked. All part of the tone we want for our communities.
In terms of the politics I reckon the community would be overjoyed and thankful for some action. But not a “war”on this or that but simply said enough is enough and its now time to get our house in order before too many more folk are unnecessarily hurt, maimed or killed by senseless violence that arguably could be reduced or prevented.
Thanks for reading this if you have and I hope you can see a case for positive change however that might occur.
For the record I am not a recent victim though a few decades ago it was a close call once or twice but I was prompted by pent up frustration at seeing how we are destroying our civility and I was also challenged by reading Nick Clarkes story in the Sunday Age on February 10 2013.