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Letters: Addressing crime, ensuring safety in Rarotonga

Thursday 21 September 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Letters: Addressing crime, ensuring safety in Rarotonga

Dear Editor, Rarotonga, our beautiful island and popular tourist destination, is currently facing a growing challenge due to increasing crime rates.

This pressing issue not only affects our local community, but also endangers our thriving tourism industry – our nation’s primary source of income. We must urgently address the root causes of this problem and implement effective solutions to ensure the safety and well-being of both residents and visitors alike.
To develop effective strategies for reducing crime in Rarotonga, it’s crucial to first understand the underlying issues contributing to its escalation. Factors that may lead to increasing crime rates include unemployment, substance abuse, lack of educational opportunities, and social problems within the community.
1. Assaults: Financial or personal struggles, easy access to alcohol, or poor impulse control can drive individuals towards violence. Some offenders may have grown up in environments where violence was normalised or used as a coping mechanism.
2. Theft: A desire for material possessions or financial gain might motivate individuals to steal. Drug addiction or extreme poverty can also fuel these actions.
3. Traffic Offenses: Reckless driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can cause traffic offenses and accidents, putting people at risk and damaging property.
4. Excessive Drinking: Alcohol misuse can exacerbate existing social issues and significantly contribute to violent crimes.
Recognising and acknowledging these issues is vital for successfully addressing them. Here are some potential solutions for these challenges:
1. Education and Awareness Campaigns: Initiating programmes that raise awareness about the negative impacts of alcohol abuse, promote responsible drinking habits, and encourage healthy coping mechanisms among residents can reduce alcohol-fueled violence.
2. Employment Opportunities: Creating job opportunities tailored to individuals’ skills and interests can alleviate financial desperation as a driving factor for crime.
3. Community Policing: Fostering trust and collaboration between law enforcement and the community is key. Establishing neighbourhood watch programmes and involving local leaders in crime prevention strategies may encourage locals to actively participate in creating a safer community.
4. Rehabilitation Programmes: Supporting individuals struggling with addiction or those involved in criminal activity offers an alternative path towards reintegration into society. Programmes may involve vocational training, counselling, or mentorship.
5. Traffic Safety Initiatives: Strengthening enforcement of traffic laws, offering ongoing driver education programmes, and increasing penalties for repeat offenders can deter dangerous driving practices.
6. Building Confidence and Self Esteem: Empowering individuals to reach their full potential and positively impact those around them.
By addressing the root causes of rising crime rates, local authorities can collaborate with residents to implement lasting solutions that improve safety and the overall quality of life. This united approach will strengthen the community and protect Rarotonga’s essential tourism industry, ensuring long-term success and prosperity for the island.

Sammy Mataroa