Parents often worry about their young adults when they are out late at night and don't stop worrying until they are home and "safe", yet home is often the least safe place for our young people.

People say there is safety in numbers, yet making up the numbers in some groups makes us less safe, as we have seen last week with the death of a young man because he made up the numbers of those dressed in red and not the numbers of those dressed in blue.
Whanganui has been part of the safer city project for some years and has accreditation and a programme built around safety in our communities.

It had milestones it has to meet and maintain to retain the classification of being a "safer city", yet some people who never visit would refuse to believe we are safe here.

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Across the country the crime rate has dropped like a stone, region by region.

People in New Zealand are safer now than they have been for decades and that is in all areas of risk.

We are driving our much safer cars on our much safer roads to our much safer workplaces, having dropped kids off at much safer schools. Yet our road toll climbs for some inexplicable reason. We are much less likely to injure ourselves by accident than we are intentionally, with 668 suicides last year at 13.67 per 100,000 population, which is an increase on the year before.

We are nearly twice as likely to commit suicide than die in a car crash. And this is the second safest country to live in the world.

Recent research has found that the safest country to live in the world is Iceland. It locks up 45 people for every 100,000 of its citizens.

The same research identified New Zealand as the second safest country in the world. We lock up 217 people per 100,000 population.

Much to the chagrin of those who would have us feed people in prison on bread and water and throw the keys away, locking people up does not make us safe.

Unfortunately, many of us have contracted out of caring about our neighbours. Through the 1980s we were encouraged to believe the Government could do it all as we raced to live as independently from each other as possible and to believe that if we paid our tax we had no further responsibility to nurture and protect those around us regardless of how stark their need. Many now feel that the lack of safety in some areas of society is not their concern.

Their skewed view of their own safety is dependent on burglar alarms and a driveway that lights up automatically every time the neighbour's cat crosses the boundary line.


How we get back to a society that cares about the people it lives with is a challenge when folk are more worried and anxious about an accidental death in another country than they are about a homicide in their own city if they belong to a different group, class or ethnicity.

The fact is that safety is a community responsibility.

We can take more pride in living in a safer city as more people feel safe and exhibit behaviours of feeling that way.

Chester Borrows served as Whanganui MP for 12 years and as a minister in the National Government.