Ikaroa-Rāwhiti candidate for the Green Party and seasoned youth worker Marama Davidson joined youth advocacy organisation JustSpeak in asking the Government to ‘please explain’ the statistics showing a much higher proportion of prosecutions against Māori young people compared to non-Māori apprehended for crimes like theft.
Information compiled from NZ Police data by JustSpeak shows the proportion of youth and child Police apprehensions leading to prosecution in 2011 by age, ethnicity and offence type. Ikaroa-Rāwiti has some of the highest proportions of Māori youth involved with the justice system – in particular Hastings and Gisborne Youth Courts are regularly some of the busiest in the country.
Ms Davidson, who has many years experience in youth work said that “instituitonalised racism in the justice system is stigmatising our rangatahi Māori and is ignoring the positive contributions they give to their communities, hapū and iwi”.
For nearly every offence category, Māori have a higher proportion of apprehensions leading to prosecution.
Some further findings for 10-16 year olds:
- The offence second-most-likely to result in prosecution is purely administrative “offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations” – a category more likely to lead to prosecution than acts intended to cause injury;
- There are very few homicide or related offences for young offenders – only three cases in 2011;
- Theft is the most common youth offence;
- Of the 3,495 theft apprehensions recorded as Caucasian, there were 588 prosecutions. For rangatahi Māori, of the 5,660 apprehensions recorded, 1,173 resulted in prosecution (16.8% vs. 20.7%.).
Each year Child, Youth & Family deal with about 150 young people from Gisborne who have committed an offence. The suburb of Kaiti accounts for over half of Youth Court clients in Gisborne but only has 30% of the young people aged 14-16 living in Gisborne.
Based on 2001 estimates from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, each year offences committed by young people in Gisborne cost around $200,000 in Police expenses for violence-related crime, $616,000 for dishonesty offences and $650,000 for drug and anti-social offences, in addition to Police costs there are court and sentencing costs totaling over $1 million per year just for Gisborne young people. These estimates exclude the costs of Child Youth & Family involvement and the much higher external costs including health care for victims, tax lost, productivity losses and non- financial costs associated with crime such as emotional trauma, relationship break-down and social isolation.
“It’s not any individual’s fault, it is a structural problem within the justice system where Police staff in particular have a culture that sees young Māori as more guilty and they are less likely to have the personal and familial resources to articulate their situation confidently,” Ms Davidson said today.
When the Government releases its Youth Crime Action Plan later this year, the Green Party will support JustSpeak as they look closely for how the Government plans to address these disturbing outcomes for rangatahi.
Authorised by Jon Field, Level 2, 17 Garret Street, Wellington
For further information please contact:
Marama Davidson, Green Party candidate, 021 025 88302
Jack Tautokai McDonald, Communications Assistant, 027 759 1680 / jack [dot] mcdonald [at] greens [dot] org [dot] nz (jack [dot] mcdonald [at] greens [dot] org [dot] nz)
JustSpeak infographic: http://justspeak.org.nz/what-are-your-odds/