Leader of Government Business in the Senate Maxine McCLean is calling for a return to fundamental values in order to reduce the incidence of crime.
During the introduction this morning of the Magistrate’s Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which seeks to end preliminary inquiries, McCLean said a departure from informed behaviours, family and national values had led to a rise in criminal behaviour.
Therefore, she said, while the legislation to ease the backlog at magistrates’ courts was a good one, it was also important to put support systems in place in order to foster a sense of community and responsibility.
“Even when we amend the rules to expedite cases, what we will have would be an explosion of cases before the courts, and so we cannot only address improvements within our court system. We have to do so against the background of strengthening those systems that we have in terms of fostering family, strengthening a commitment to traditional values,” the Government senator told the Upper Chamber.
“We cannot talk about amendments of this nature without focusing on the supporting mechanisms. To do that in a vacuum is to ignore the very factors which contribute to the presence of our citizens before the courts,” she added.
McCLean said a number of excuses were proffered for criminal behaviour, including the absence of a good social safety net and lack of access to education or to proper human rights.
She said it was important to eliminate these factors in an effort to reintegrate those who felt isolated into the community.
The Leader of Government Business also called for mechanisms “to rescue and protect” those who are vulnerable, “including persons who may find themselves prone to criminal activity because in some instances they might have fallen through certain cracks”.
If this were not done, she cautioned, “we will have to find other ways to deal with the increasing incidents of crime that put people before the courts”.