Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


“Face of Looting” actually a face of system failure

2 March 2011

“Face of Looting” actually a face of system failure and lack of awareness.

Autism New Zealand Chief Executive Alison Molloy says that Arie Smith, the 25 year old young man with Asperger’s Syndrome who has been charged with looting after the Christchurch Earthquake, is not the face of looting. He represents a lack of awareness of autism and the failure of society to accommodate a diverse range of needs.

“Everyone is aware that the people of Christchurch have been through a devastating experience in the recent earthquake and that behaviour such as looting is not acceptable. This has been acknowledged by Arie’s family. However, we believe that the Earthquake should not be a reason for media to lose a sense of perspective by making Arie the scapegoat for all unacceptable behaviour in Christchurch.

Ms Molloy points out that a characteristic of Asperger’s Syndrome is an almost obsessive interest in a hobby or collecton – such as light fittings in the case of Arie. Research also shows that for people with Asperger’s, the focus in terms of actions may not be linked to consequences – so while Arie might have been aware that what he was doing was wrong logically, he may not have connected his action to the possible consequence of being arrested.

Autism New Zealand is also very concerned that Arie has been imprisoned “without any help” and that threats of violence have been made against him without full knowledge of the circumstances.

“Arie Smith is the tip of a very large iceberg”, Ms. Molloy continued. “There are many people with Asperger’s Syndrome and other forms of ASD who are only receiving much needed support when they reach a criminal justice and state support system which is not equipped to meet their needs. This is an untenable situation.”

“But right now our focus should be on supporting people such as Arie Smith. He will be sitting in a prison cell scared, frightened and trying to figure out an incredibly complex social situation. Autism New Zealand wants to work with the justice system, Work and Income and Child, Youth and Family to support people on the spectrum and their families. But we also believe that all New Zealanders need to stop for a moment and consider the case of Arie Smith and the lack of awareness which caused him to be “the face of looting.”

“On a positive note, we wish to commend the New Zealand Herald and their reporter Jared Savage for going behind the dramatic headline and trying to understand the complexities of this situation. Factual reporting such as this goes a small way to increasing the awareness of autism which would be so useful in a case such as that of Arie Smith”, Ms. Molloy concluded.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Minister of Finance: Plan Shows $100 Billion Infrastructure Projects

Finance Minister Bill English has today launched the Government’s Ten Year Capital Intentions Plan (CIP) which shows a pipeline of $100.9 billion worth of infrastructure projects over the next decade. More>>


Werewolf: Safe Landings Gordon Campbell on the safety challenge to the Wellington runway extension.

The safety-related legal challenge revolves around the size of the 90 metre long Runway End Safety Area (RESA) being proposed for the runway extension. More>>


Environment Commissioner: We Need To Work Together On Climate Change And Farming

“The debate around agricultural emissions and the ETS has been polarised for too long,” said the Commissioner. “But the ETS is not the only way forward – there are other things that can be done.” More>>


NZ Super Fund: Seeking To Put A Market Price On Climate Change

Oct. 19 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand Superannuation Fund says it will devise a set of rules to assess investment winners and losers under climate change, a strategy that could rule out fossil fuels or producers such as current portfolio member Exxon ... More>>


Rejuvenation: Parata Will Not Contest 2017 Election

Education Minister and National List MP Hekia Parata has today announced that she will not be contesting the next election. She advised the Prime Minister of her decision earlier this year. More>>

Prisons Grow: Government Approves Plans For Increased Prison Capacity

Despite significant progress in reducing crime the number of prisoners has increased faster than projected. This is because the proportion of offenders charged with serious crimes has risen, meaning more people are being remanded in custody and serving more of their sentences in prison. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Plastic Bag Activism, And Street Harassment

Amusing to see the Act Party experiencing another outbreak of young fogey-ism. What has aroused the ire of Act Leader David Seymour this time is the introduction of a Greens private members bill to the ballot process, calling for a 15 cents levy on plastic bags to reduce pollution. More>>


Unclear Weapons: US Navy Ship Cleared To Visit NZ For Navy's 75th

United States Navy ship, the USS Sampson, has been given clearance to visit New Zealand next month by Prime Minister John Key... “The process for considering the visit by the USS Sampson is the same as that used for all ships attending the International Naval Review." More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news