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Passage of Policing Bill a ‘Travesty’

Rahui Katene
MP for Te Tai Tonga | Maori Party Deputy Whip
Thursday 18 August 2011

Passage of Policing Bill a ‘Travesty’

The Maori Party strongly opposes the passage of the Policing (Storage of Youth Identifying Particulars) Amendment Bill under urgency, as a travesty of Parliamentary process.

“The Government gave the public only two hours’ notice of its intention to pass this Bill – until then it was called ‘a Government Bill’ and ‘the Policing (...) Amendment Bill’. Why the secrecy? Police procedures to identify criminals and the system for processing them need proper, open and democratic debate, not more secrecy and urgency.

“We can understand the current law which allows police to retain the fingerprints and photographs of youth who are convicted of a crime, but we are totally opposed to the details of those young people, who are discharged without conviction, being held by the police” Maori Party police spokesperson Rahui Katene said.

“As far as we’re concerned, if the judge is going to let them go, the police should too.

“We see this bill as an attack on rangatahi Maori because they are over-represented in the Youth Court system. And to allow the police to keep the details of those who are found ‘not guilty,’ tells us that the system wants to mark them because they have no faith that they will lead lives without crime. “The focus should be on supporting these rangatahi, not lining them up for candidates of crimes that might happen in the future.”

"The Bill retrospectively validates the keeping of records collected since 1 October 2008 – which must have been kept by the Police in breach of current law. We strongly oppose endorsing illegal behaviour, especially by those responsible for making sure the rest of us follow the law”

“This law should not be retrospective. The records that should not have been kept are records that did not lead to a conviction or a sentence – they are details of witnesses, or people who had charges against them dropped by the Police. We are not talking about criminal records being wiped.

"The government’s justification for the Bill is that ‘the storage of youth identifying particulars (IP) is vital for the detection of youth offenders who go on to re-offend. Early identification of repeat youth offenders is important for ensuring that interventions are put in place to help prevent repeat youth offenders from progressing to the adult court system. It is also vital to solving crimes and providing satisfaction to victims of youth crime.'

"These issues need to be debated. There is plenty of research to show that the criminal justice system is biased against Maori – and this is one more nail in the structure that brands and tracks young Maori as potential criminals.

“I want to thank everyone who responded to our SOS call this morning; who has shared their views about this Bill with Parliament; and helped to enable at least some public engagement”.

ENDS

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