Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fiji Police and Crime

from w
In today’s Fijilive is an article about the Fiji police. The idea to engage in a pro-active way with the community is commendable, though to use only one church is not good PR. Also, an understanding of why criminals do what they do is surely part of the solution.
Fiji Police is looking to partner more religious groups in the fight against crime……
“The role of police is to detect and prevent crime, but in order to fight crime, we have to first identify the real enemy because only then will you know what weapon to use. And in this case, the real enemy is the evil spirit in people so, this is where the crusade comes in. It’s a crime prevention exercise and also a part of our change in strategy to take the police to the community and to the people,” Tabakau said.
I think criminal activity is much more than ‘the evil spirit in people’.
When I read this I decided to look up the topic of crime on the internet and found some enlightening reading. It is not about an ‘evil spirit’ but is much more complex. The police in a society need to address a multitude of needs to transform society (with other institutions and groups) as much as possible into a safe law-abiding society. Yes, the church does play a part, but not by shouting at people.

Some discussion on the website is about what makes people commit a crime. Here are some of the points raised in the article. It’s too long to repost as it is.
How do some people decide to commit a crime? Do they think about the benefits and the risks? Why do some people commit crimes regardless of the consequences? Why do others never commit a crime, no matter how desperate their circumstances? Criminology is the study of crime and criminals by specialists called criminologists. Criminologists study what causes crime and how it might be prevented. Throughout history people have tried to explain what causes abnormal social behavior, including crime. Some people consider crime and sin the same thing. They believed evil spirits possessed those who did not conform to social norms or follow rules.

By the twenty-first century criminologists looked to a wide range of factors to explain why a person would commit crimes. Reasons for committing a crime include greed, anger, jealously, revenge, or pride. Some people decide to commit a crime and carefully plan everything in advance to increase gain and decrease risk. These people are making choices about their behavior; some even consider a life of crime better than a regular job—believing crime brings in greater rewards, admiration, and excitement—at least until they are caught. Others get an adrenaline rush when successfully carrying out a dangerous crime. Others commit crimes on impulse, out of rage or fear.

The desire for material gain (money or expensive belongings) leads to property crimes such as robberies, burglaries, white-collar crimes, and auto thefts.

The desire for control, revenge, or power leads to violent crimes such as murders, assaults, and rapes. These violent crimes usually occur on impulse or the spur of the moment when emotions run high. Property crimes are usually planned in advance.

Discouraging the choice of crime
The purpose of punishment is to discourage a person from committing a crime. Punishment is supposed to make criminal behavior less attractive and more risky. Imprisonment and loss of income is a major hardship to many people. Another way of influencing choice is to make crime more difficult or to reduce the opportunities.

Parental relations…..
Children who are neglected or abused are more likely to commit crimes later in life than others. Similarly, sexual abuse in childhood often leads these victims to become sexual predators as adults. Many inmates on death row have histories of some kind of severe abuse. The neglect and abuse of children often progresses through several generations. The cycle of abuse, crime, and sociopathy keeps repeating itself. Children who are neglected or abused commit substantially more crimes later in life than others. ‘………………..Supportive and loving parents who respond to the basic needs of their child instill self-confidence and an interest in social environments. These children are generally well-adjusted in relating to others and are far less likely to commit crimes.

Heredity and brain activity
Some studies suggested a genetic basis for some criminal behavior…. In 1986 psychologist Robert Hare identified a connection between certain brain activity and antisocial behavior. He found that criminals experienced less brain reaction to dangerous situations than most people. Such a brain function, he believed, could lead to greater risk-taking in life, with some criminals not fearing punishment as much as others.

(A study of) nmates in state prisons showed very low education levels. Many could not read or write above elementary school levels, if at all. The most common crimes committed by these inmates were robbery, burglary, automobile theft, drug trafficking, and shoplifting. Because of their poor educational backgrounds, their employment histories consisted of mostly low wage jobs with frequent periods of unemployment.

Peer influence
A person's peer group strongly influences a decision to commit crime. For example, young boys and girls who do not fit into expected standards of academic achievement or participate in sports or social programs… may abandon schoolmates in favor of criminal gangs, since membership in a gang earns respect and status in a different manner. In gangs, antisocial behavior and criminal activity earns respect and street credibility. Like society in general, criminal gangs are usually focused on material gain. Gangs, however, resort to extortion, fraud, and theft as a means of achieving it.

Drugs and alcohol
Some social factors pose an especially strong influence over a person's ability to make choices. Drug and alcohol abuse is one such factor. The urge to commit crime to support a drug habit definitely influences the decision process. Both drugs and alcohol impair judgment and reduce inhibitions (socially defined rules of behavior), giving a person greater courage to commit a crime. Deterrents such as long prison sentences have little meaning when a person is high or drunk.

Substance abuse, commonly involving alcohol, triggers "stranger violence," a crime in which the victim has no relationship whatsoever with his or her attackerTreatment focuses on positive support to influence a person's future decision making and to reduce the tendency for antisocial and criminal behavior.

Criminal Justice. (accessed on August 19, 2004).
Read more:

Added later:
There's a 2008 report on crime in Fiji (sounds like from the American Embassy.


Wilson said...

As you've just posted, crime isn't just the 'evil spirit'. This blanket reasoning isn't going to help with crime prevention, and needs to be addressed at all levels. Also, I don't think "the devil made me do it" will hold up in court :P

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Bula vinaka Wilson,
These notes were not based on a Fiji situation so I wonder if there has been much research on criminology as it relates to the Pacific Islands. I would add other reasons such as breakdown of traditional constraints, urbanisation and mental illness as well.

Anonymous said...

Fiji Times reporters are having a bit of a joke surely in their reporting! Now it's about 'unholy hours' at the Suva seawall.

Beat on ‘evil' lane
Tuesday, July 07, 2009

THE Police Force will evangelise to young people meeting at the Suva seawall, especially during unholy hours.

Director Police Operations SSP Waisea Tabakau told Fiji Village police were constantly patrolling the seawall area and couples found near the seawalls were being evangelised to.

He said in order to become a disciplined citizen one had one had to remove the evil spirit.

SSP Tabakau also warned people not to roam around the seawall area during odd hours because they could fall victims to serious crimes.

Anonymous said...