It remains the case that in comparison with many other parts of the world, including many UK communities, this Island is a remarkably safe and secure environment in which serious offences involving violence are mercifully rare.
However, if the broad assertion that Jersey is relatively crime-free still holds true, there are disturbing signs that some categories of lawlessness are on the increase. The areas of concern are public order on the streets of St Helier, drunkenness, often among the very young, and a spate of violent assaults.
There have been 84 serious night-time attacks so far this year, though that figure can be regarded as only indicative of the scale of the problem. The police cannot be everywhere at all times, so even those on whom we rely to enforce the law can only guess at the number of breaches of the peace, incidents involving drunk and disorderly behaviour and cases of malicious damage which go unrecorded.
But we are in no need of statistics to confirm that a situation that has for some years been regarded as the norm in many UK town and city centres is now becoming an entrenched part of Island life. St Helier at pub or club closing time is by no stretch of the imagination a pleasant environment for the mass of law-abiding Islanders – or, indeed, our visitors. It has, alas, become the chosen stamping ground of drunks, brawlers and associated anti-social elements.
Now is undoubtedly the time to call a halt to the slide towards late-night anarchy – not with fits of middle-Jersey outrage but with a carefully targeted drive to apprehend, charge, convict and punish as many as possible of those who believe that the rules of decent society are there merely to be flouted. If we hesitate, who is to say that matters will not degenerate further, perhaps to the level where the knife crime so prevalent in the UK makes an appearance here?
Fortunately, Home Affairs Minister Ian Le Marquand, who as a former magistrate has a better than average understanding of criminal trends, has reached the conclusion that enough is enough. If he is able to act with vigour and to devise ways of helping the police to preserve the peace more effectively, he deserves all the support that he can muster.