Not a day goes by when our local police aren’t called upon to deal with an assault in a home. Police are constantly confronted by the dangerous effects of alcohol, from drink drivers endangering the lives of others on our roads to someone who has had too much to drink and has become violent or offensive.
It’s the harsh reality of the times we live in. We live in a community that has alcohol abuse, drugs and domestic violence entrenched in its fabric.
Police see it everyday. And so too the local court magistrate.
Assaults, intimidation, drink driving, and violence fuelled by alcohol, littered the court list this week.
It’s a fact Tamworth Local Court Magistrate Roger Prowse says is now the norm.
He says alcohol abuse and domestic violence are the two biggest scourges on Tamworth.
There will be some people surprised that it’s not the drug or ice epidemic that is hurting our community the most.
Fewer and fewer families can say they have never experienced domestic violence, or an abusive father, mother or son who lashes out when they’ve had too much to drink.
According to the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), Tamworth is ranked 35th in the state for the number of DV-related assaults.
In the Tamworth council area – the same area that the Tamworth court covers – there were 340 DV assaults between October, 2015, and September, 2016.
Mr Prowse is the one person in our community – appointed by parliament – charged with the responsibility of determining guilt or innocence and the punishment that follows.
It’s a balancing act for the magistrate. The principles of sentencing mean public and personal deterrence must be taken into account, and the offender’s conduct denounced and punished.
But there is also the moral duty to encourage rehabilitation.
Many would say lock them up, jail him or her, throw away the key. But sending every offender to jail is clearly not the answer as history has proven.
It is the magistrate’s weighty responsibility to balance the claims of punishment and the individual’s right to a second chance, to redeem themselves and rejoin the community as valuable citizens.