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Policing Amendmen Bill - Rahui Katene (committee stage)

Policing (Storage of Youth Identifying Particulars) Amendment Bill
Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga
Thursday 18 August 2011 : Committee stage

I want to firstly make comment on clause 3 in which we find that the Bill is retrospective. The clause states that This Act amends the Policing Act 2008. According to the explanatory note, the Police lost the power to store particulars on 30 Sept 2008 - so any records kept since 1 October have been kept in breach of the law.

In essence then the retrospectivity of this Bill validates illegal behaviour by the Police.

And if the Police have acted in accordance with current law, then there will be no records kept - so there should be no need for this Bill to be retrospective?

As I have said previously in this debate, it is the secrecy and urgency that is the key issue, this is what creates this as an abuse of process that justifies opposition to this Bill until the issues are considered properly.

I move then to the Purpose of this Act – that the purpose of this Act is to amend the principal Act so that it indicates clearly when it authorises the storage and when it requires the destruction of youth identifying particulars.

I guess that’s a description of what this Bill will do – but it’s not a sufficient explanation as to why we need to store the fingerprints and photographs of our young people.

And I want to share with the House, a staggering statistic from Kim Workman, Director, Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

In his work, we learn that "For Maori males born in 1975,
• it is estimated that 22% had a Corrections managed sentence before their 20th birthday, and
• 44% had a Corrections managed sentence by the age of 35. "

"Corrections managed" includes both custodial sentences and community based sentences.

This is a fact that every MP in this House should be aware of before they vote on this Bill.

What this Bill does, as set out in Part One – clause 4 - to provide a legislative means for the unique identifying particulars of our young people to be stored on the record.

Members from National and Labour alike have tried to encourage me to keep the issues I have raised during this debate for another time; and that we need to focus our korero on the themes of this bill is to ‘correct a mistake that was never intended’ – we are “restoring the status quo”.

We have been told that the Maori Party and the Green Party have missed the point.

We have been challenged that we should have raised these issues when the Policing Act came up in 2008. Without putting too fine a point on it, neither the Green Member (David Clendon) or myself were in the House at this time.

However I have read back over the contributions made my the Maori Party when the Policing Bill came before the House – and I want to re-state a comment made by my colleague Dr Pita Sharples that “effective policing relies on a wide measure of public support and confidence”.

Public support and confidence means having the courage to open up all issues around police behaviours to scrutiny.

What I would say is thank goodness there are two parties in this House, who have raised issues about process – who have raised issues about why would we introduce legislation under urgency to store the ‘identifying particulars” of our rangatahi?

Well I would remind all those well meaning members that there is a broader context to part one of this bill – and that is the grossly disproportionate youth apprehension and prosecution statistics which provide us with a distinct challenge when we think about the relationship between the Police and young Maori.

We know that the apprehension rate of Maori youth was more than three times that of New Zealand European.

We need to be open to scrutiny in this House - and allow substantative debate – whether or not it occurred in 2008 or now


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