Monday, 15 March 2021 - 8:32pm |
National News

New research to focus on fairness and equity in policing our communities

3 min read

Police will work with Te Puna Haumaru NZ Institute for Security and Crime Science at the University of Waikato, and criminal justice advocate Sir Kim Workman, on a major research programme looking at how Police can ensure it delivers policing that is fair and equitable for all our communities.

Understanding Policing Delivery” will be a long-term research programme focussed on examining where bias may exist within Police policies, processes, and practices.

Commissioner Andrew Coster said bias in policing continues to be a much talked about issue within communities and it is crucial that the debate is grounded in evidence and common understanding.

“Allegations of bias are felt across the whole organisation. Objective research will either reassure the public that we are operating with fairness across all communities, or it will highlight where we need to improve our practices and processes. Either way, the findings will inform Police work programmes and help it to deliver on our commitment to Māori, and the Treaty, by ensuring our actions are fair, reasonable and proportionate for all New Zealanders.”  

The Commissioner emphasised that the research would focus not just on frontline staff and their interactions, but also on policy, training, and deployment, to get an end-to-end understanding of Police decision-making.

Sir Kim Workman KNZM QSO will chair the external reference group to provide expert, independent, academic, cultural and community advice to the research programme.

“As a critic of the criminal justice system on the issue of bias for the last 20 years, I welcome this project as a watershed moment,” Sir Kim said.

“This project is a positive step forward and a unique opportunity for the community to cooperate in a way that assists this work.

“I commend the Police Commissioner and Police Executive for their leadership on this topic within their organisation and the community and I look forward to chairing the voice of the community as part of this work.”

Commissioner Coster said frontline police provided outstanding service to New Zealand every day, often in extremely volatile and trying circumstances.

“I am proud of the work our teams do, and our frontline police will be involved in the development and design of the research to ensure it properly takes account of their current operating environment.

“This is a difficult subject, but it is also an opportunity to show our communities we are hearing them loud and clear and are committed to delivering a style of policing that works for all New Zealanders. What we find can only improve our policing and strengthen our communities’ trust in us.”

Alongside this research, Police will continue with other interventions aimed at ensuring objectivity in decision-making. These include:

  • Police’s Reframe Strategy, which aims to Improve frontline practice for better resolution outcomes;
  • Te Huringa o Te Tai, which focuses Police’s effort around three Pou; our people and our mindset, effective initiatives and improved practice, and effective partnerships;
  • Te Pae Oranga iwi/Māori-led community panels, which take a restorative approach as an alternative to prosecution. Police can refer participants of all ethnicities;
  • Using insights from behavioural science to inform deployment decisions;
  • Training in de-escalation and awareness of the drivers of offending in frontline tactical training;
  • Improving the way Police makes decisions about charging, to ensure consistency, and fairness in case resolution;
  • Recruitment changes to reflect the diverse communities we serve.

Further information about the “Understanding Policing Delivery” programme will be released as the programme is finalised.


Issued by Police Media Centre