Police commanders have reported an overnight drop in the number of violent offences being committed. And they are putting the drop down to recent announcements by the Government that it intends to get tough on crime.
Prime Minister John Key recently announced plans for tougher sentences against offenders who attack police. And Police Minister Judith Collins has also spoken of the need to rebuilt respect and fear for the law.
It is believed that these signals, together with moves to introduce a three-strikes system for serious offending, are putting the gangs out of business.
“It was like a switch just got flicked,” said Waitakere Deputy District Commander Barry Maddox. “Only a couple of days ago we had more violent crime than we knew what to do with, and a gang problem that was escalating out of control. Today? Nothing, other than a callout to help an old lady get her cat out of a tree.”
Commander Maddox would not be drawn on the exact reason for the overnight drop, but said that the announcement by John Key had sent a chill through the entire criminal community.
Most gang leaders spoken to were reluctant to comment on the proposed new sentencing laws. However, one senior Mongrel Mob member who wanted to be known only as “Knuckles”, said it was the end of the road for the gangs.
“Mate, we didn’t think this day would come. We’d been dissing the pigs for years, showing no respect, thinking they would never push back.”
Knuckles began to weep as he spoke. “Now it’s all over. The penalties are just too much. The prospect of a strike offence for assaulting a policeman is intolerable to me, and I will not countenance such a terrible fate. Oh, the tragedy of it all! I think I have just bludgeoned my last woman! Woe! I shall have to move on and find an honest living.”
Knuckles said he would now look to retrain. “I’ve always been handy with the old knife, and the fists are pretty useful too. But now it’s all changed, and that’s game’s behind me. I might take up aromatherapy.”
Another gang member spoken to echoed the same sentiments.
“I went down for manslaughter and did ten in the slammer,” said the man, who would only talk under conditions of anonymity. “Got into a fight and tore the man’s face half off. Blood everywhere. But punching a policeman? No way. That’s just wrong! You think I’m an idiot? I’m quitting."
Opposition leader Phil Goff has been left struggling to explain the overnight transformation of the gangs from unruly criminal thugs to model citizens. “Labour’s been saying for years that tougher sentences are a waste of time. We’ve always said that you need to look at the causes of crime, like poverty, unemployment, and poor education. We’ve always maintained that having a fair and just society, where we all look after each other, is the best way to defeat the gangs.
“We have always derided those on the Right who think that locking people up and throwing away the key is the answer to these complex social issues.
“It looks like we were hopelessly wrong. We should have listened to the Sensible Sentencing Trust.”