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More needs to be done to reduce the Maori prosecution rate

Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tonga

More needs to be done to reduce the Maori prosecution rate

Labour’s Associate Maori Affairs spokesperson Rino Tirikatene is disappointed but not surprised to learn that the Police have not reduced the disparity in prosecution rates between Maori and Pakeha youth.

Statistics compiled by JustSpeak reveal that there is a systemic bias against Māori,” Rino Tirikatene said.

In 1999 a report from the Ministry of Justice found that the prosecution rate for Maori aged 10 to 16 years stood at 76.2 per 1000 people. The prosecution rate for non-Maori stood at 16.95 per 1000 people.*

“Even after more than a decade, the disparity in treatment remains.

A report by Auckland University academic Kylee Quince also reported that Maori adults were 3.8 times more likely to be prosecuted than non-Maori and 3.9 times more likely to be convicted of an offence. Nine times as many Maori than non-Maori are remanded in custody awaiting trial.

“Prosecution is a discretionary decision. The Police will weigh the strength of evidence, previous offending and support networks. What the recent and past figures reveal is that race is the unspoken consideration. It’s the elephant in the room that the Police Minister and her department are desperate to deny.

“The Quince report also found that at least two thirds of the 737 police respondents in a survey reported hearing their colleagues use racist language against Maori. Many also reported a tendency to suspect Maori of an offence or to stop and hassle Maori driving “flash” cars. Quince found that the data suggested 25 per cent of police hold negative attitudes against Maori.

“The Minister needs to respond to this research and reassure New Zealanders,” Rino Tirikatene said.


*Ministry of Justice, Conviction and Sentencing of Offenders in New Zealand: 1996-2005
Wellington, Ministry of Justice, 2006, Executive Summary. (link)

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