Police admit strategy isn't helping Māori

By Jessica Tyson

The police strategy Turning of the Tide, which aimed to decrease Māori reoffending and prison rates between 2012 and 2018, isn't helping Māori according to an examination by Stuff news.

The ongoing strategy gives police permission to not prosecute people for a crime in a bid to reduce crime rates, especially among Māori.

Stuff found that police are prosecuting Māori more than Pākehā and offering alternative solutions to Pākehā more than Māori.

Māori Deputy chief executive Wally Haumaha says police are now undergoing a transformation with an aim to be more diverse and less punitive to balance out the scales of justice for Māori.

But he says a challenge in the industry has been convincing not only his colleagues of the new changes, but the public as well.

“When you break from tradition, from traditional practices of nail them and jail them, and you look at alternative options some people will get upset because you're taking away that power base," he says.

“I was accused of preferential treatment for young Māori.  You know, how do we keep people out of the system if we're not going to provide the opportunity and the direction”.

From 2012 to 2018 the Turning of the Tide strategy aimed to decrease first-time youth and adult offenders by 10 percent, reduce re-offending by 20 percent, cut police prosecutions by a quarter and lower Māori crash fatalities by a fifth.

However police failed to deliver and publicly acknowledged they were disappointed by the results.

To meet their goal to reduce Māori offending by 25 percent by 2025, Haumaha says police are working towards building relationships with iwi.

They’re also making police more accountable, hosting key initiatives and events for Māori and educating police on how to think differently when managing offenders, says Haumaha.