Tuesday, 16th January 2018
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Crime & Punishment

It seems that not a week goes by without some media stories about murder, manslaughter and assaults assailing the general public. Some stories in particular about murders, seem to take on a life of their own and turn into something more resembling a soap opera in the nature of their telling. In turn this seems to create a real climate of fear around the way in which people tend to live their lives. Whether or not this should be the way that things should be is another matter.

This seeming disparity between the reality of crime and the perception of crime is something of profound import. Obviously crime isn't something that should be taken lightly and of course it does have a very real impact on the people that are victims of it. Crime when it happens to you, no matter how significant, is a very real thing and shouldn't be something that is made light of. No one knows that better than someone who has been a victim of crime and has had their life rocked by it. But in general we live in a society that is relatively little affected by crime. In the western world no matter how you juggle the statistics, Ireland is one of the countries that is least affected by crime, no matter the severity of it. But to a large extent it is not the way in which we perceive crime. We tend to think that crime is far more prevalent than it actually is. It is in a way natural to think of the downside of something rather than the upside of it.

Every year when the crime statistics come out and we hear of numbers that are in their thousands for certain crimes and we can't help but feel fear in their wake. Then there are other crimes that come with the proviso that the numbers are under-reported. It can be quite confusing at times. So too can be the punishment of crime. Here too the media has a large part to play, it tends to report on only the most extreme of stories where there has been a largely unequal punishment for a convicted crime. Then again whether it is just reporting on the news as it is is another matter. It all seems to come down to grey areas and matters of opinion. It is a newspaper's job to sell newspapers and if the reporting of sensational crime stories does that then who is really to blame.

In the end though it does seem to be that no matter the reporting we live in a relatively crime-free society where the punishment does tend to suit the crime. Although the proof of that statement lies in how you would personally feel as a victim of crime yourself.

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