The Ashburton Guardian. Magna Est Veritas Et Prevalebit. TUESDAY, JANUARY 10, 1882. Crime in Ashburton.
[lssued at 430 p.m, j
We have before us the return of the > various crimes committed in Ashburton 'during the past and preceeding years, land, like similar returns from other towns, it shows a proportionate increase of offences as population increases. We are not in any way justified in stating that Ashburton presents a worse aspect than many other older towns in the matter of crime, yet we consider that, taking the . present.population as a basis, there is ; a larger proportion of committals for * minor offences than in any other town lin New Zealand. This fact is no ; doubt owing to the vigilance of our police, and the promptness in which »they bring law-breakers “to book,” fmore than anything else. Of course 'there are large numbers of bad characters continually roving about in this colony, and they generally find their way to an inland town like Ashburton, for some reason or other. (Taking the police return for 1880, we ■find that there were 717 offences of various kinds reported to the police, lout of which 11 were sent for trial, 574 persons were summarily convicted, and 83 discharged. The principal offences included in the above, were common jassaults, 32 ; drunkenness, 197 ; lariceny, 46; Railway By-laws, 39; and vagrancy, 49 ; the balance being made up of 64 other offences more or less numerous as regards offenders. For 1881, the return shows that 885 .offences were reported to the police, 24 Vere sent to trial, 675 were summarily convicted, and 141 discharged. The jmost numerous were those of drunkenness- —280, common assaults, 27 ; common larceny, 31 ; obscene and profane language, 31; threatening and abusive language, 24 ; vagrancy, 44 ; malicious injury to property, 20. The greatest increase over last year was drunkenness, 76, and for being drunk whilst in Charge of a horse, and on the railway 17; house-breaking, 9; malicious injury to property, 9; profane language, r 4; abusive language, 19; robbery with violence, 9; which, with the other offences committed, make a total of 286 offences more than for 1880. Against this there is a decrease in the number of some of the offences committed during 1880, amounting to 118. The offences which show a notable decrease are— Railway by-laws, 32; Public Works Act, 13 ; common larceny, 15 ; stealing from a dwelling, 8 ; vagrancy, 5 ; common assault, s, &c. It is pleasing to note even this decrease amongst a few of the many more serious offences committed, but we attribute it to be due to the eminently satisfactory way in which our late Resident Magistrate, Mr Wood, dealt with these particular offenders. Owing to circumstances, “■.over which we have no control,” Ashburton is, unfortunately, indebted to the “ loafers ” for the increase in crime committed during the past two years. We cannot ekpect a perfect immunity from crimes slch as have been recorded in our Ptolice Court, but society demands that this now appalling question of what may be termed criminal inebriacy rtiquir.es the earnest consideration of legislators. That the hardworking and industrious settlers should be saddled with an enormous and increasing expanse every year, to mete out the law tc| persons who bring upon themselves th|e offences that are committed, in nine cases out of ten, through getting htjlplessly drunk, seems to us monstrous inj the extreme. The majority of the cases point to one fact, and that is the amount of crime with which our own district is particularly associated _ with, is that ;of drunkenness. This is the r'' ot of all the evil, but now that it is made a more punishable offence _we niijiy reasonably hope to see a diminutkjn in .the number of offences here, as wdll as in other parts of the colony.