Three 15-year-olds were stunned with a Taser by police and one 9-year-old had it presented to them in 2018, according to a newly released report.

Data from the 2018 Tactical Options Research report also shows force is used disproportionately against Māori and Pasifika communities, which a justice adviser says raises further concerns about armed police trials being carried out over the next six months.

Per capita, Māori were 7.6 times more likely than Pākehā to be on the receiving end of police force, which included OC (pepper) spray, empty hand tactics, Taser and firearms.

This rate had increased from 7 in 2014.

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During offender proceedings, force was used against Māori 33 per cent more often than Pākehā. This was a drop from 40 per cent in 2017, but an increase from 24 per cent in 2014.

Māori accounted for more than half of all such events in 2018 - more than all other ethnicities combined. Pacific peoples were also over-represented.

In 2018 Māori were nearly nine times more likely than Pākehā to experience Taser deployment by police. Photo / File
In 2018 Māori were nearly nine times more likely than Pākehā to experience Taser deployment by police. Photo / File

Māori were nearly nine times more likely than Pākehā to experience Taser deployment.

Police were also more likely to discharge their Taser - rather than simply showing it - in situations involving Māori and Pacific peoples, at a rate of 25 per cent compared to 20 per cent for Pākehā.

Safe and Effective Justice Advisory Group member Julia Whaipooti said the report was "very concerning" especially given the recent trial of armed police patrolling select "high risk" areas.

"If those rates are to continue, and that trial is fully rolled out, we could be doing interviews about another Māori person shot by police."

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Whaipooti said while it was encouraging in the past to see police had acknowledged bias and institutional racism, they needed to follow that with actions.

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"They can't come out and say one thing, and then the next week roll out armed police in disproportionately Māori neighbourhoods."

As police were more prevalent in Māori areas, they were more likely to engage with Māori, and therefore Māori were statistically more likely to be involved in situations involving police force, fuelling further distrust of police, Whaipooti said.

Police Taser deployment for 2018 by age group. Image / NZ Police
Police Taser deployment for 2018 by age group. Image / NZ Police

The most recent Police Citizens' Satisfaction Survey found 79 per cent of people surveyed had full or "quite a lot of" trust and confidence in police.

However, this dropped to 70 per cent for Māori.

Whaipooti, who is also a senior advisor in the Office of the Children's Commissioner, said the use of Tasers on youths was particularly concerning.

Twice a 9-year-old was presented with a Taser in 2018. The police report noted each time the child had been "behaving violently, suffering a mental health episode, and threatening police and family members with a weapon" - once with a knife, another time an axe.

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Three different 15-year-olds also experienced Taser discharges, while the oldest person was 66 years old.

One incident involving a teen came during a low-speed pursuit, with the intoxicated subject driving a stolen vehicle and refusing to stop for police.

Tactical Options Reporting for 2018 by ethnicity. Image / NZ Police
Tactical Options Reporting for 2018 by ethnicity. Image / NZ Police

The other incidents involved a "suicidal subject armed with a large knife", and apprehending the offender from a recent aggravated burglary.

Whaipooti said police were increasingly acting as "expensive social workers", and resources needed to be shifted towards community initiatives.

"I understand there are instances where young people are rarked up, but using force to de-escalate these situations involving young people, who are most likely brown, is unacceptable," Whaipooti said.

Overall the 4398 events where tactical options were used was a three per cent decrease since 2017, and came out of 3.6 million police interactions.

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The most common tactical option was "empty hand tactics" - 40 per cent, followed by handcuffs and other restraints (37 per cent) and OC (29 per cent). This was similar to previous years.

Firearms were discharged at seven incidents in 2018.

Tactical options used in 2018 by ethnicity. Image / NZ Police
Tactical options used in 2018 by ethnicity. Image / NZ Police

In one incident the person sustained fatal gunshot injuries, and in another the person died but the cause of death was ruled inconclusive by the Coroner.

The number of injuries in 2018 (839) was slightly more than 2017 (837), with the vast majority of mild or moderate.

A Taser was presented at 24 per cent of events, but only discharged at 20 per cent of the 1075 instances. This had dropped from a ratio of 25 per cent in 2017.

The data showed Pākehā were more likely to have handcuffs/restraints and empty hand force used, while Māori and Pasifika were more likely to have OC spray and Taser used.

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Police Commissioner Mike Bush announcing a trial for armed police to patrol certain parts of New Zealand. Photo / File
Police Commissioner Mike Bush announcing a trial for armed police to patrol certain parts of New Zealand. Photo / File

Superintendent Andrew Sissons, national manager for response and operations, said their purpose was public safety, which sometimes meant using force.

"Police recognise use of force is a significant power granted to us, so our use of force is always proportional to a person's threatening, violent and/or life-endangering behaviour."

Sissons said Māori were over-represented across the criminal justice system, which was reflected in the tactical options reporting.

"We continue to work with our communities, our partners, and the justice sector to try to change this."

Police were committed to reducing Māori re-offending rates 25 per cent by 2025, as part of its refreshed Te Huringa o Te Tai - Turning of the Tide strategy, Sissons said.