Mark is a Criminal Lawyer practicing in the Northern Rivers of NSW. The area takes in Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga, Grafton and Maclean.
The Northern Rivers area of NSW takes in the Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga, Grafton and Maclean districts. This is a prosperous area of Australia, but even so, it is not immune to criminal activity. Criminal activity encompasses a very wide range of offences. Here I will focus on summary offences dealt with in the local courts. These are by far the most common offences and are usually linked to social and economic issues. https://aic.gov.au/file/6228/download?token=0S96Sjmp
It is widely known and supported by evidence that areas suffering higher rates of unemployment also suffer higher rates of crime. As these areas have less money to go around they are usually poorly maintained driving property prices and rentals lower which attracts people with fewer resources. This includes but is not limited to:
- Unemployed people
- Disabled people
- Poorly paid people
Many of these people are unable to support themselves fully so they will often rely on government support. Unfortunately, this is usually not enough. When people are placed in a position where they are unable to get by daily they are forced to act. Some people go busking or wash windows at traffic lights where others might take advantage of situations which present themselves and find they are in trouble with the law. In trouble with the government who fails to support them in the first place. So, what do these crimes look like? https://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/mum-and…community-respo/3334899/
Here is an example. Rob goes to the shop to buy bread for the kid’s lunches on Monday morning. Rob has some vegemite at home and one piece of fruit but has only enough money for a loaf of bread and is not getting a welfare payment for a couple of days. In the carpark outside the shop Rob finds a wallet containing $20.00 and an Eftpos card. He takes the $20 and the card but hands the wallet to the shopkeeper so that the owner might be spared the need to get new licenses etc.
Rob buys some milk, fruit, eggs, ham, and juice for the kids with the $20 and uses the cards to buy himself a packet of smokes. He uses the pay wave option under $100. On the way to school he puts $50 of petrol in the car and buys the kids a pack of chips each. After he drops the kids off he picks up his mate Kev and they go to the bottle shop and buy $99 worth of grog. They then go back to Robs where they gather a group of friends and they all get pissed. Rob then gives the card to Stacey who goes to pick up the kids and buys them some Maccas on the way home. Stacey then keeps the card and does some shopping with it the next day before passing the card on to Wazza who buys some more grog before going back to Robs for another party. This scenario is all to common in the Coffs, Woolgoolga, Grafton and Maclean areas. The victim in this case is to some extent the owner of the card but they usually suffer the short-term inconvenience rather than financial loss as the banks usually refund the insured funds. The wider community absorbs the financial loss through fees and insurance premiums and the banks continue to make millions.
Rob is charged and convicted of stealing and placed on a good behavior bond. The court sympathizes but are there to administer the law. The government tells Rob he should get a job but instead of building a factory where Rob might get a job they build a new prison to house the ever-growing number of criminals who commit crimes because they are economically and socially excluded from society.
The sectors of society who suffer most from this terrible cycle of those most vulnerable. Aboriginal Australians are only too well represented in this group. The despair caused by the marginalization of groups at risk leads to higher rates of:
- Domestic Violence
- Alcohol related crime
To name but a few.