'Maori unfairly treated by Police' - Sharples

Maori Party Leader Pita Sharples (L). Photo / NZ Herald
Maori Party Leader Pita Sharples (L). Photo / NZ Herald

Dr Pita Sharples' view that Maori are unfairly treated by Police has been supported by director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment Kim Workman.

The Maori Affairs Minister said yesterday the New Zealand justice was unfair, biased and prejudiced for most maori and announced a plan to push for a review of the entire system.

In a statement he said the system including, police, courts and corrections ``systematically discriminates against Maori''.

Maori offenders were arrested at three times the rate of non Maori for the same crimes, he said.

They were also more likely to have police contact, to be charged, to lack legal representation, not to be granted bail, to plead guilty and to be convicted, said Sharples.

His view was supported by research and ``continued denial of this issue has resulted in a loss of Maori trust in the police'', said Workman.

She referred to a 1998 study that showed some police officers held negative views of Maori people and crime and later studies including one in 2009 by the Ministry of Justice that showed Maori over-representation had reached an ``alarming level'' with police apprehensions and elsewhere in the system.

``The Commissioner, and other leaders in the Justice system, need to take leadership of this issue, and conduct a systemic review of ethnic bias in the criminal justice system,'' she said.

A transformed justice system should include Maori practices, principles and programmes ``by Maori, for Maori, with Maori'', said Sharples.

The party was also looking to advance several policies including, three-strikes legislation, supporting whanau- focused services for alcohol and drug addiction, reviewing police use of tasers and guns and fostering literacy and numeracy in prisons.

- APNZ

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