Police Commissioner Mike Bush was facing a justice select committee in Parliament this week, and he had a novel response when asked for reasons why he thought there'd been a spike in crime committed by women and young people over the past few years.

The answer, he said, could be partly due to social media.

He said he was concerned that some of the motivation of criminals is about people getting notoriety - seeing their names plastered all over the mainstream media, as well as Facebook and other platforms.

I'm sure he's quite right but this is nothing new and cannot be blamed on the modern media.


The press has always glamorised gangsters and deadbeats - from Jesse James to Bonnie and Clyde to Charles Manson through to the so-called "world's hottest criminal'.
You may recall Jeremy Meeks, who gained worldwide fame when his mug shot sent women the world over into oestrogen overload.
He was jailed for 27 months for illegal possession of a firearm, and on his release from prison in 2016, the former gang member was snapped up by a modelling agency and given a passport to the high life.

After ditching his loyal wife and three kids, the former felon hooked up with a wealthy British heiress (her dad owns Topshop) and is currently sailing the Med on a private yacht with the aforementioned heiress.

Who says crime doesn't pay?

And our young ones know that.

The rappers they listen to know more about crime sheets than music sheets and the Instagram stars they follow hang with gangsters, dress like gangsters, bonk gangsters or are gangsters.

Why on Earth would you toil away in a boring 9-5 job, earning next to nothing, when you can grab the attention of your peers by behaving badly?

If you're a talentless oik from Smalltown, Nowhere, your chances of having a glittering life of fun and excess are pretty limited.
What's an oik to do? Join a gang and command the fear and attention of the community that way? Commit a crime so horrific your name and face will be part of history?

You may not have won a Nobel prize but more people will know your name than they will those of great scientists or writers.

And look at our fascination with true crime shows. Netflix had a winner on its hands with the hugely popular Making a Murderer and here in New Zealand, we had Nigel Latta's Beyond the Darklands.
Each week, the forensic psychologist would put a notorious local criminal under the microscope. The crimes would be re-enacted and motivations analysed.

Beyond the Darklands drew hundreds of thousands of television viewers every week - which must have been enormously satisfying for the criminals.

We viewers might have simply been exploring our dark sides in a safe and detached way, secure in the knowledge that we'd never actually harm someone else - all the wannabe gangsters would have seen is a community fascinated by crime and the people that perpetrate them.

So, yes, we live in a society where criminals can become millionaires and girls release sex tapes to catapult themselves to fame.

We care more about what people have than who they are and the only "friends" that matter are the ones who like your posts - even if you have never met them.

Social media is a relatively new form of communication and some criminals are taking advantage of that.

But there has always been an uneasy relationship between the community, the media and the crims - social media has just provided new platforms upon which thugs can parade themselves and make an absolute fortune doing so.

Kerre McIvor's Sunday Sessions show is on NewstalkZB, 9am-noon.