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Inequalities endemic through all levels of justice

7 October, 2004

Inequalities endemic through all levels of justice system

Green MP Sue Bradford said today that New Zealand's justice system needs to take a long, hard look at itself in the wake of Serious Fraud Office director David Bradshaw's report that white-collar criminals are treated far more leniently compared with lower income criminals.

"This is a wake-up call to the judicial system that justice is not blind in New Zealand, said Ms Bradford, the Green spokesperson for Social Services.

"It's been apparent for far too long that lower income people, Maori and other ethnicities get a raw deal from the judiciary, so I welcome Mr Bradshaw's courage to point out the bleeding obvious.

"I call on the Minister of Justice to act decisively on the report's findings, in as far as his powers allow, and eliminate the gross inequalities and bias in New Zealand's justice system."

Ms Bradford said that the evidence of bias throughout all levels of the justice system spoke for itself.

"In prosecution, conviction and sentencing it is clearly obvious that white-collar criminals get off lightly," she said.

"The fact that the Serious Fraud Office itself has only 11 investigators, compared with over 100 benefit-fraud investigators at WINZ, shows how skewed our system has become.

"This shows that there is a massive disparity in targeting fraud. Anyone would know that a beneficiary is in no position to rip off millions of dollars like a white-collar crim," she said.

"And an Institute of Criminology report to the police revealed that officers are 46 per cent more likely to carry out a 'query vehicle registration' if a Maori person is seen driving a flash car.

"It's high time we ended the racial and social profiling of people going through the justice system. If the Government is so hell-bent on eliminating race-based policies then they must also eliminate race-based and income prejudices," she said.

ENDS

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