Zero Tolerance rejected by South Australia's Attorney-General

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 28 Apr 1999 17:43:27 -0700 (PDT)


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http://www.theaustralian.com.au/state/4316017.htm
FWD  Australian News Network - 27 April 1999

     RIGID ZERO TOLERANCE REJECTED

A ZERO tolerance approach to crime will not be adopted by police in South
Australia.

In rejecting the controversial measure, the Attorney-General, Mr Griffin,
said it was not a "magical cure-all".

The rigid zero-tolerance approach involves a strict enforcement of laws no
matter how minor the offence.

Mr Griffin said an Office of Crime Statistics report, which documented
significant police and academic concerns about the approach, dispelled some
myths about zero tolerance.

"What I've been anxious to do is make sure that, when people talk about
zero tolerance, they realise that it's not a magical cure-all," he said.

We've got no intention of embracing that and implementing it in a broad way
in SA."

The report examines the high-profile experiment with zero-tolerance
techniques in New York, which coincided with a 51 per cent reduction in
homicides and a 37 per cent drop in crime during the past three years.

The report, however, found comparable reductions in crime rates occurred in
other American cities in the same period, and suggested other factors were
at play.

Mr Griffin refused to comment on the endorsement of zero-tolerance
principles by the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, saying he did not know how the
PM interpreted the term, and did not plan to discuss it with him.

SA was recognised as an innovator in fighting crime and Mr Griffin was
comfortable with the strategies being pursued here, he said.

"I think we're on the right track by being cautious about embracing (zero
tolerance)," Mr Griffin said.

The focus on street offences meant the approach tended to target the poor,
homeless and racial minority groups.

"The report indicates that if this approach were introduced in Australia,
it would be likely to result in increased criminalisation of indigenous
people who are already over-represented in the criminal justice system," he
said.

"This report highlights to me that we need to continue to be innovative on
crime prevention strategies and deal with the causes of crime, rather than
only focusing upon the tail-end of criminal behavior."

The document also reports the Police Commissioner, Mr Mal Hyde, as
describing zero tolerance as a "quick fix" approach.

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