Editorial: Now this is real

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2013

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OPINION: It's been suggested before, but who was to know it was actually happening.

Young people who commit silly crimes, many no doubt on the spur of the moment or peer-pressured, have been working off the reparation they owe their victims. By being paid to cut hedges and paint fences, with the earnings going to the person whose car they flogged or whose letterbox they kicked in.

Great stuff.

This is how it should be, and beats just sending a youth offender a bill they'll never pay, defaulting instead to a stint of community service from which the victim gets nothing.

This pay-your-way approach, unique to the Timaru District, is a win, win, win. The victim gets some cash, the community looks tidier and the offender appreciates more the impact of his crime. Hopefully.

Certainly they'd have time to think about it while snip-snipping away, and there may even be satisfaction in a job well done. Who knows, maybe some of them may even find fulltime work as a result.

And at least mum and dad aren't paying.

The concept of paying the youths for work actually done rather than an hourly rate is also good thinking. There's an incentive to work harder if you know you get 30 cents per metre of hedge trimmed.

Okay, so $14,500 paid back by 33 offenders over two years isn't earth-shattering, but it's the principle that's important.

The victims would have seen less of their reparation under any previous scheme, and the fact few have reoffended says something.

So good on Child, Youth and Family for its initiative and the district council and Barnabas Trust for supporting it.

Another thing: The Cook Strait earthquakes aren't comparable to Christchurch's, but now a greater proportion of the country's population will be able to understand what a reasonable shake feels like.

And the main effect is that earthquakes are scary.

The quakes of Friday and Sunday will reinforce a couple of things. That despite what happened in Canterbury, most people are still unprepared. And that whatever the authorities were considering regarding new building rules, the proposals may just have become a little harsher.

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- The Timaru Herald

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