Targets set to reduce Maori crime, crash rates

Police and local iwi have come up with a strategy they hope will reduce the victimisation, offending and road fatalities and injuries among Maori in Rotorua.

A group of police and iwi representatives from around the country have developed a strategy to change Maori representation in crime and crash statistics.

The strategy (The Turning of the Tide - a Whanau Ora Crime and Crash Prevention Strategy), has been based on crime and crash plans drawn up by iwi across the country, Te Arawa among them, and was endorsed by iwi leaders nationwide.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said there was an obvious need to reduce the number of Maori entering and re-entering the criminal justice system and dying on the roads.

"Maori now comprise more than 40 per cent of all police apprehensions, more than 50 per cent of the prison population and more than 20 per cent of crash fatalities, despite making up only 15 per cent of the general population. It wasn't always like this and everyone recognises things need to change.

We've jointly developed a set of challenging targets out to 2018 that will really make a difference to Maori representation in official statistics."

Mr Marshall said the aims were for a 10 per cent decrease in first-time Maori offenders, a 20 per cent decrease in repeat Maori victims and offenders, a 25 per cent decrease in (non-traffic) apprehensions of Maori that are resolved by prosecution and a 20 per cent drop in Maori casualties in fatal and serious crashes.

Ngati Porou leader and Maori Focus Forum member Dr Apirana Mahuika believes the time is right for action.

"Most Maori who are victims or who are directly involved in crime are under 25 years of age. With our population of young people growing, if we do nothing, then even more Maori will end up in hospitals, police cells, courts and prisons. We can't let that happen."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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