Māori, Pacific and Chinese NZers less comfortable with criminal justice system - survey

8:08 am on 8 July 2020

Māori, Pacific and Chinese New Zealanders are less likely than others to feel their values are in alignment with criminal justice system, according to a survey out today.

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The Ministry of Justice has released its Social Wellbeing and Perceptions of the Criminal Justice System report, which draws on feedback from 8000 people about their experiences and perceptions of crime.

Sector deputy secretary Tim Hampton said the views differed depending on people's background.

"Māori, Chinese and Pacific adults are all less likely to feel that their values align with the criminal justice system than other adults," he said.

However, Hampton said most people think police and victim support groups were doing a good job.

"This trust decreases when it comes to courts and Corrections, which is consistent with previous New Zealand and international studies," he said.

A second report published today had similar findings.

The voluntary online Hāpaitia Te Oranga Tangata report of 5000 people concluded Māori should take the lead on solutions for Māori people in the criminal justice system.

Tim Hampton said the ministry had started to address issues in the social wellbeing report, including collaborating with iwi on a new court building.

The system needed to improve so communities felt more connected and comfortable, especially for minority groups, he said.

Some aspects of the report wouldn't improve overnight, Hampton said, however he hoped to see improvements by the time another survey comes out in about three years.

Key findings of the Social Wellbeing and Perceptions of the Criminal Justice System report

Eighty-three percent of adults meet socially at least once per week, and 55 percent have high or very high levels of trust in most people.

One in five (20 percent) Pacific people worry all or most of the time about being a victim, compared to 1 in 20 (5 percent) New Zealand Europeans, while the difference in the actual experience of crime for these groups is small and not statistically significant (31 percent compared to 30 percent).

Six percent of New Zealanders are completely confident that the criminal justice system as a whole is effective, and a further 47 percent are fairly confident. Another 25 percent are neutral.

Adults who identify as bisexual (28 percent) and Māori (39 percent) are less likely to be fairly or completely confident in the criminal justice system than New Zealand adults overall (53 percent).

The public views police and victim support groups more positively than other parts of the criminal justice system, such as prisons and the parole board.

Half (51 percent) of New Zealand adults said their feelings about what is right and wrong usually agree with the criminal justice system, and 41 percent said they sometimes agree.

Māori (38 percent), Chinese (39 percent) and Pacific peoples (39 percent) are less likely than those of other ethnic groups to feel their values usually align with the criminal justice system.

There is a strong consensus that people who offend can go on to lead productive lives with the right effort and support.

One third (36 percent) of adults had contact with the criminal justice system in the previous 12 months, with one in five adults (21 percent) having been in a vehicle that was stopped by police.

A quarter (23 percent) of those adults who had contact with the criminal justice system said they had a very positive experience, and a further 43 percent said they had a positive experience.

Those who attended court or a tribunal are more likely to view their experience with the system negatively.

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