Hate crimes in New Zealand are being downgraded from what should be criminal offences because most police personnel do not know how to enter them into their database.
According to the police annual report (pdf) on data quality, 43% of hate crime complaints have been downgraded. These included racially motivated abuse, violence, threats or intimidation.
Police updated the way hate crimes are recorded in the wake of the Christchurch shootings on 15 March 2019, but Islamic Women’s Council representative Anjum Rahman told RNZ that the figures were concerning and showed more training was needed, “particularly of frontline staff, in some areas. There appear to be some areas, such as the 105 team [staff handling non-urgent calls], who are well trained and able to assess a lot better than other types of staff who would be getting the complaints first-hand.”
The report recommends further training for police to ensure the correct procedure is followed.
After the Christchurch terror attacks, police moved to start recognising hate crimes and flagging them in their files. Previously this was only optional. “There’d been requests for quite a number of years for police to do this,” Rahman said. “It was of course disappointing that they waited until after a tragedy to put that effort and resourcing in, but absolutely they are moving in the right direction and we are very happy that they are doing so.”
In a statement, police admitted they had a long way to go in their work on hate crime.
“Police has been consistently improving how hate or prejudice is captured as a contributing factor to crime or incidents in our recording systems,” the statement read. “However, as identified by the annual report on police data quality, we have work to do to ensure the data reflects an accurate picture of hate crime-related offences.
“Police continue to focus on tracking and checking flagged hate crime/hate incidents in our systems, to ensure they are accurately recorded and that we’re able to provide a response that victims and communities expect.”
Police said they were working with other agencies and community groups to improve how they reported hate crimes.