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Rahui Katene Speech: Storage of Youth ID Particulars Bill

Policing (Storage of Youth Identifying Particulars) Amendment Bill
Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga
Thursday 18 August 2011; 10.30am

This Bill was introduced in the Urgency Motion; described only as "a government bill to be introduced and passed".

Even in the internal emails circulating about this bill, it was referred to as the Policing Amendment Bill.

In fact, until 9.30am this morning I didn't think it was even going to be debated today.
One has to wonder why the intrigue?

What is so contentious, so sensitive about this Bill that we dare not speak its name? That name being the Policing (Storage of Youth Identifying Particulars) Amendment Bill.

Mr Speaker, as a matter of principle I try to act in a way which is driven by trusting the best of people.

But here we are - on a quiet Thursday morning in Wellington - conscious of two very significant events occurring in other parts of the land.

In Ngaruawahia, at Turangawaewae, whanau, hapu and iwi from right across Aotearoa, are now gathering to remember Nga Kawe Mate o te Motu. This is one of the most significant components of the Koroneihana - where the people gather, from the four winds, to pay tribute and rememberance to all those who have passed on since the last Coronation.

The people come in their hundreds; the widows and children are welcomed onto the verandah of Mahina Rangi, and the korero begins. And this year of course we are all aware of the significance of so many losses right throughout the land, that we grieve collectively. Moe mai ra e nga huhua kua ngaro ki te po. Haere, haere, haere atu ra.

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Meanwhile, whether in Auckland or in our homes by virtue of coverage from Maori Television, the nation will shortly be stopping in our tracks to pay tribute to our former Governor-General and Archbishop of Aotearoa, Rt Reverend Sir Paul Reeves.

It is a big day for Aotearoa.

And so I return to a quiet Thursday in Wellington, where with little fanfare or fuss, while the nation is otherwise distracted, legislation is being introduced, under urgency and under plain cover, to empower the Police with the ability to store fingerprints and photographs of our arguably most vulnerable citizens, our rangatahi.

Is this conspiracy theory? Time will tell - but at the very least I would hope that the Minister could explain why the name of the Bill was not even published until this very moment.

The key phrase omitted from the public record until 10am today, was of course "Storage of Youth Identifying Particulars" - in other words, the storage of things which can be used to identify youth.

Currently, under the Police Act 2008, Police can only store youth 'identifying particulars' like photographs and fingerprints, following a conviction.

This bill amends the Policing Act 2008 to now include a wide range of categories for youths for which an order in the Youth Court other than conviction is made.

Examples of orders for which the bill would allow Police to keep youth fingerprints and photographs include:

* Orders discharging a young person without further order or penalty,

* admonishing the young person,

* fines,

* ordering the youth to come before the court for further action at a later date,

* paying money towards the cost of prosecution,

* repairing damaged property, any restitution, forfeiture of property,

* driving disqualification orders,

* or an order to attend programmes/courses (drugs/alcohol/ parenting etc), supervision, community work.

One might as well ask what ISN"T being included in the bill.

As a consequence of this bill, if a rangatahi goes through the Youth Court and gets one of the above orders against them, the Police will be allowed to keep fingerprints and photographs. Presently, that is not the case.

So is there cause for concern?

Presumably if the Police are holding on to the fingerprints and photographs, it will make matching up future crimes all the easier, and one could argue if a person commits a crime they need to do the time.
And it is important to note that this bill deals with retaining fingerprints and photographs, not obtaining it.

The assumption is that the fingerprints and photographs have been obtained legally, this bill deals with what happens after it has been obtained.

But for our people - when they read this speech on the email tonight - and they see orders such as admonishing the young person, or ordering the youth to come before the court for further action at a later date, their antennae will be raised.
In preparing for this Bill I came across an article published in 2007 in the Police Journal, Ten One. It featured a Police Practice Note which encouraged members of the New Zealand Police to promote the fact that it is in the best interests of children and young persons to voluntarily agree to be fingerprinted.

To be fair - the practice note makes it clear that children under the age of ten years should only be fingerprinted for the purpose of eliminating them from a police inquiry and that children aged ten to thirteen years cannot be fingerprinted without written approval of the Youth Aid section of the police.

But the note also described the collection of fingerprints as a "crucial part of policing in the community".

Now crucial is a big word - there's not a lot of option built around that.

It means its going to be and remain a priority in the Police officer toolkit.

So although this Bill is focused on storage and retention rather than obtaining the fingerprints and photographs in the first place, its still part of a bigger picture in which the material relating to young people is being obtained and stored buy our authorities in an attempt to establish serial profiling of youth offenders.

And that Mr Speaker, brings us into a much bigger discussion around racial or ethnic profiling; and the connection to human rights.

That's the fundamental rights relating to the protection of personal data, and non-discrimination - areas I am going to focus on in later readings of this legislation.

The recognition of discriminatory ethnic profiling practices has taken on a new light in comparable jurisdiction around the world, in in the context of recent policy changes related to counter-terrorism, law enforcement, immigration, customs and border control.

Discriminatory ethnic profiling describes the practice of basing law enforcement decisions solely or mainly on an individual's race, ethnicity or religion.

For many of our community, it is an issue that they have unfortunately associated with too many policing decisions in relation to apprehension of our young people - and it must be an issue that we give serious consideration to in this debate.

The Minister would be well aware of the robust body of evidence related to police bias and over-scrutiny of Maori - as best articulated in the series of research reports around Police Responsiveness to Maori and Maori Responsiveness to Police.

Mr Speaker, the Policing (Storage of Youth Identifying Particulars) Amendment Bill introduces a huge raft of issues associated for rangatahi and for the Maori population as a whole. The Maori Party will be opposing it at every stage.

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