New statistics released by the New Zealand Police show Māori were disproportionately subject to police proceedings – including court proceedings and receiving warnings – during March and April, Marc Daalder reports
As a debate heats up over racial bias in New Zealand policing, new statistics show that Māori were more likely to be subject to police proceedings during the months of lockdown than any other ethnic group.
For March and April, Māori made up 42.5 percent of people subject to some form of proceeding, which could include a criminal court appearance, a warning from police or a youth referral. As of the 2018 census, Māori made up just 16.5 percent of the country’s population.
For the same period, European New Zealanders made up 36.1 percent of those subject to proceedings, even though census data indicates they make up 70 percent of the general population.
Māori were more than four times more likely than Europeans to be subject to legal proceedings.
This difference was starkest with court appearances in particular, where Māori represented 46.6 percent of those who showed up in court. Europeans made up just 36.6 percent.
Warnings saw a slightly more even spread, although Māori were still greatly over-represented. According to the police data, 34.6 percent of formal warnings were issued to Māori, compared to 37.5 percent to Europeans. Of informal warnings, 36 percent were issued to Māori and 39.5 percent to Europeans.
This pattern was also visible in the category of offences most likely to refer to lockdown breaches. Proceedings for “offences against justice procedures, government security, and government operations”, which jumped by 300 percent from March to April, were more likely to be carried out against Māori than any other ethnic group. Māori made up 40.2 percent of people subject to proceedings for this category.
When asked whether the police force has a problem with systemic racism on Tuesday, Police Minister Stuart Nash said, “I don’t think it does. The previous commissioner himself acknowledged that there is perhaps unconscious bias and, in recognising that, he undertook to change the way that new constables were trained to recognise this, but I don’t think there is institutional racism in the police.”