Māori account for more than half of arrests by Armed Response Teams in trial

3:39 pm on 10 June 2020

Māori made up more than 50 percent of arrests and uses of force by members of the now-scrapped Armed Response Teams (ARTs), police data shows.

The new new police special patrol vehicle.

Armed Response Teams' patrol vehicle. Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

During the six-month trial, the armed teams went to more than 200 mental health and suicide threat incidents, more than a dozen cannabis offences, and even checked how 17 businesses were adhering to pandemic rules.

About a quarter of all jobs attended were "3T" turnovers - a stop or search of a car or person. Bail checks, family harm incidents, arrest warrants and suspicious people or cars made up the remaining top five job codes.

Police today proactively released some data from the trial, after Commissioner Andrew Coster yesterday said the teams would not be re-started, following preliminary findings of an evaluation and consultation with community groups.

ARTs went to 8629 incidents over the six-month period - an average of 47 a day.

The top 10 incident codes were:

  • 3T - turnover: 2195 incidents
  • 5K - bail check: 787
  • 5F - family harm: 746
  • 2W - arrest warrant: 466
  • 1C - car/person acting suspiciously: 406
  • 4Q - inquiry/investigation: 400
  • 3530 - disorder: 270
  • 3M - directed patrol: 261
  • 1U - traffic offending: 240
  • 6820 - firearm offences: 223

Other firearm offences can be categorised under separate codes, for example the 12 incidents of aggravated robbery with a firearm.

Other notable codes include 167 responses to a threatened/attempted suicide, 75 for mental health, 22 for cannabis drug offences, 17 of a pandemic business check, and eight for noise control.

Ethnicity data is recorded for incidents where an offence or weapon was recorded.

Of the 1651 offence or weapon incidents where a person's ethnicity was known, 51 percent were Māori, 36 percent Pākehā, 10 percent Pacific, less than 3 percent Asian and less than 1 percent Middle Eastern, Latin American or African.

There were 49 uses of force towards people; of which 53 percent were used against Māori people, 41 percent against Pākehā, and 4 percent against Pasifika.

One suicidal man was pepper sprayed. Others who were suicidal or in mental distress had Tasers presented towards them.

The types of incidents police used force in were for traffic incidents; domestic disputes; mental health incidents including suicide threats; breaches of peace; arrest and search warrants; and family harm incidents.

No shots were fired during the trial, but firearms were presented five times. Tasers were used twice.

The full data is available here.

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