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New intel points to change in law

Police Minister Chris Hipkins says a change to the law to allow police to continue taking photographs and fingerprints from young people could be on the table.
The comments follow a report released by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Privacy Commissioner last month, which found photos and fingerprints of five youth in Wairarapa were taken illegally.
It further found officers had developed a widespread practice of routinely taking photographs of people in public for later identification, with little cause.
The report suggested police practices needed a drastic overhaul.
Hipkins, in a visit to Wairarapa yesterday, said the primary objective was one of making sure the government
was getting the balance right.
“Intelligence gathering is an essential part of police activity – fingerprints are an incredibly important tool for police to be able to use.
“The IPCA and privacy commission report highlighted some bad practice by police, which police have admitted, but it also potentially swung the pendulum too far. For example, where kids had actually offended but perhaps are not being charged because they’re being diverted through an alternative resolution pathway – saying that police can’t collect that data and can’t hold that data is actually really problematic.”
Te Pati Maori co-leader Rawiri Waititi questioned in mainstream media earlier this week what the government was trying to achieve.
“Are we headed towards a granny state, a mummy state-type government? Where the state now has total control over what happens with our rangatahi Maori, who are the predominant group who has been identified, photographed illegally without consent?”
Hipkins denied the mummy-state claims.
“I don’t accept that. I think New Zealanders would expect when young people are involved in offending that police will be actively investigating that and they’ll be taking steps to try and avoid that and certainly to try and avoid reoffending.
“That’s the group of young people we’re talking about.”
When asked about racial bias, Hipkins said there would be further training, should new laws be brought in.
“Police are doing a lot on that already, not just in regards to this, but in regards to the way they police.
“There is a lot of emphasis on police at the moment on ensuring that they’re conscious of which communities are being more heavily policed than others and are they being discriminatory in their practices.
“And it’s not just in regards to youth offending, it’s in regards to all of police’s work.”

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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