Questions and Answers

1. What is this research programme about?


The Understanding Policing Delivery (UPD) programme was announced by the Police Commissioner Andrew Coster in March 2021 when he appointed the Founding Chair of the Independent Panel Tā Kim Workman.

‘Understanding Policing Delivery’ is a research programme looking at who we stop, how we engage, and how we make decisions around use of force and charging.  It is about the policing system, not about individual Police staff.

The research is looking at whether Police policies, procedures, practices, structural design, legislation, or training produce worse outcomes for some people, and communities, than others.


2. Why are you doing this research?


Police rely on the broad support of Māori and communities in order to do their job. Without it we don’t have the information we need to effectively investigate crime, prevent crime, and keep people safe.

Over the years, surveys of trust and confidence in the Police have shown that Māori and Pacific communities have lower confidence in the Police than non-Māori.  The 2021 NZ Crime and Victims Survey (PDF 772KB) indicates that almost three quarters of the general population have high trust and confidence in the Police, for Māori the figure is 59%.

We know this isn’t just a matter for Police. The data clearly shows that Māori are much more likely to be charged with a crime, convicted of a crime, and imprisoned than the general population.

What none of the data tells us is why this is happening.  UPD is about taking an evidence-based approach, using data and the lived experience of Māori and communities, to establish whether and to what extent bias exists at a system level within Police’s operating environment, in order to make positive change.

We will also be researching the way in which the Police engage with disabled people and other groups impacted by policing.


3. Why do some communities trust Police less?


The current reality is that some communities have very different outcomes than others from their experience of the justice system here in New Zealand.

For example, Māori, young people, and some rainbow communities are more likely to be victims of crime. And Māori and young people are charged with crimes between two and three times more often than the general population.

Disabled people rightly expect Police to respond in the right way to their often-unique circumstances. Like other parts of government we know we have work to do.

So, at the moment it is easy to understand why these communities feel they are being treated differently by Police. We want to find out why and what positive changes we can make to ensure that policing is fair and equitable.


4. Why do you need to do research, why can’t you just fix things now?


Research will provide evidence-based information to Police, Māori and communities, which will either confirm that Police is operating fairly, or it will likely highlight opportunities to improve our practices and processes so that we can improve the equity of outcomes.

Police will look at our policies, practices, and procedures to see what might be improved to produce more equitable outcomes. Fairness and equity matter because we know that if Māori and communities trust us more, we are better able to help keep them safe and reduce the crime and harm they experience.

If we need to change how we do things we will work with Māori and communities to do that. But first we need to hear from them how they feel and what they experience, so we can understand what opportunities there are to improve in future.


5. When can we expect to start seeing results?


You can expect to see research findings through 2024. Regular updates will be shared along the way.

We are taking care to make sure that the research will give us actionable insight that will enable us to make incremental changes to our operational settings if any systemic biases are identified – without needing to wait years for the results.


6. How will you deal with feedback during the research process?


We are expecting to get lots of feedback during our research phase. In fact this mahi is designed to do just that. It will build on the feedback we currently get when we talk with Māori and communities about changing how we do things.

We are expecting some of that feedback to be challenging, and some of it may even be confronting for Police to hear. But we welcome it all because at its heart this work is about building greater trust with Māori and all communities about what we do, and how we do it, to increase safety.

If we need to change how we do things we will work with Māori and communities to do that. But first we need to hear from them how they feel and what they experience, so we can understand what opportunities there are to improve in future.


7. What have Police done to improve outcomes for Māori already?


Police is committed to ensuring all people are treated fairly by Police regardless of who they are, or what background they come from. As a Crown Agency we are committed to supporting Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi.

We are committed to acknowledging and learning from past injustices and mistakes, so that today we can provide the best possible service for Māori.

In the past six years we have established 12 dedicated Māori Responsiveness Managers at Inspector level rank, to strengthen the work of Police Iwi Liaison Officers.

In 2019 Police launched Te Huringa o Te Tai – Police’s refreshed Māori strategy, which works to strengthen Police’s relationship with Māori.  Te Huringa o Te Tai is designed to help Police realise the vision of all Māori living full and prosperous lives, free from crime, victimisation, and road trauma.  It is focused around three (Pou) pillars that will strengthen Police’s ongoing relationship with Māori.

We have created a dedicated Deputy Chief Executive Māori position, to ensure a Māori viewpoint is present and heard as part of every Police Executive discussion and decision.

We are in the process of extending Te Pae Oranga – Community Justice Panels by 40% from their current levels. These panels are open to all New Zealanders, but because they are founded on Māori restorative justice approaches have been shown to be particularly effective at reducing reoffending amongst young Māori.

We have also established dedicated recruitment targets for Māori and other communities and designed high profile recruitment campaigns specifically to attract Māori so we can ensure our Police officers reflect and understand the communities they serve.

Our focus is on working with our partners, community leaders and iwi so we can better understand what Māori are experiencing when they engage with Police towards positive change and equitable outcomes.


8. How much is this work costing?


Police have set aside $2 million dollars over the next two years to fund research.

It is important to make sure there is robust evidence before Police make any changes to their system, and that this has the buy-in of Māori and communities impacted by policing.

This is a unique approach being pursued by Police here in New Zealand – working with communities and our frontline to look at this. This work will help to make sure all communities receive fair and equitable policing.