They've unfortunately got good cause to be trepidacious. It wasn't so long ago that another shopkeeper - a Mr V. Singh - found himself on the wrong end of criminal assault charges after using reasonable force to defend himself and a co-worker from drunken teenagers armed with a knife who'd invaded his store and stabbed him.
So what do we do about this sorry and evidently escalating situation.
Well the obvious answer - and inarguably the best one - is to properly resource the New Zealand Police to actually do their job. New Zealand First secured a thousand extra front-line police plus three hundred support staff the last time we were proximate to Government between 2005-2008, and it's incredibly disheartening that National appears to have undone our good work at the stroke of a series of pens over the last few years. This isn't just an armchair pundit's opinion, however - a massive eighty six percent of front-line officers themselves believe that our Police lack the resources they need to properly do their job. And in light of the Government's frankly inexplicable decision to close a number of cop-shops in the name of cost-cutting, community access to policing is only going to get worse.
So it seems, on the face of it, that improvements in both the quantity and quality of policing to address this issue are off the table.
We must therefore look for alternative solutions, pending the election of an alternative government.
Ordinarily, it's up to Police to make a decision as to whether the force used was reasonable, and 'filter out' people who shouldn't be put through the legal system as a result; but the number of charges being thrown out pre-trial would appear to indicate that the Police are often erring too far on the side of caution when it comes to the use of their discretion, and instead taking an approach of leaving such determinations more exclusively up to the judiciary.
While it might seem like a sound legal practice to insist that any application of force in self defence ought to be one that can stand up to exterior scrutiny in court, the plain fact of the matter is that legal bills and other associated costs of proving one's innocence are highly expensive - which leads to the inescapable conclusion that the extant regime is forcing morally blameless people (the victims in these situations no less) to be financially penalized for what later turn out to be perfectly legal (even occasionally outright commendable) actions in self defence.
All things considered, my innate liberal proclivities mean that I remain somewhat uncomfortable with the notion of ordinary citizens having to take the law into their own hands. Not simply because of the risks inherent to such a position that a defender might go too far; but also, and more fundamentally because in a modern, nominally first-world Nation ... this isn't how things ought to be. People shouldn't *have* to take the law into their own hands, because our Police ought to be properly resourced. Shortfalls in political will and material support for law enforcement are not factors that should be allowed to force us into a corner and contemplate either accepting crime as a day-to-day cost of doing business here in New Zealand, or put the onus on regular New Zealand citizens to defend themselves and their property from the economically violently indigent.