Ethnic* communities welcome the opportunity to build better relationships of trust and confidence with Police, according to recently released research on the perceptions local ethnic communities have of NZ Police.
Key findings of the research showed that the experiences ethnic communities had with police staff were critical in shaping their subsequent perceptions of Police. The research found the most common reason for contact with Police was to report crime.
Proficiency in the English language was found to influence how ethnic communities perceived NZ Police, and how they reported crime. For instance, people who could not speak English well often relied on others in their communities to interpret for them, and it was felt this could potentially lead to delays in reporting or not reporting incidents at all.
Both positive and negative comments were made in regard to attitudes about police staff. It was found that existing knowledge and understanding of policing influenced perceptions of police and was often based on people's experiences of policing and police in their home countries. The research revealed considerable differences across the ethnic groups. Participants from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, for example, had mostly positive experiences of their home country's police systems and interactions with police officers, whereas those from Cambodia, Vietnam, Somalia and the Middle East considered their home country police to be less reliable.
The report also identified that the crime and safety issues ethnic communities were most concerned about were burglary; racial harassment; juvenile issues such as street violence, drinking and drugs; vandalism and car theft; small business-related crime (shoplifting, not paying) and gambling.
The research establishes a baseline for trends on ethnic communities' perceptions of New Zealand Police. "With the changing demographics in New Zealand, one of the main challenges for Police is how to better engage with and understand linguistically and culturally diverse ethnic communities," said Police ethnic strategic advisor, Kefeng Chu.
He said that Police were continuing to improve their capacity and capability to respond to ethnic communities. This research has indicated that fundamental to developing these relationships is face-to-face contact.
Recent initiatives by New Zealand Police include a customised approach towards recruitment programmes; providing support for police officers with different ethnic backgrounds, interacting more closely with specific ethnic communities on serious issues, and developing more resources in different languages.
Eight ethnic communities - Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Somali and Middle Eastern - in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, took part in the research.
The research included an advisory group with representatives from the Office of Ethnic Affairs, NZ Federation of Ethnic Councils, Land Transport NZ, Department of Labour Refugee Quota Branch, Refugee Council of New Zealand and the Human Rights Commission.
The full report is available at www.police.govt.nz.
*The term 'Ethnic' used in this report refers to a group of people whose ethnic heritage distinguishes them from the majority of other people in New Zealand, including Maori and Pacific people.