New Zealand still struggling with identifying hate crimes, but Jewish community hopeful for improvement - World Jewish Congress

New Zealand still struggling with identifying hate crimes, but Jewish community hopeful for improvement

New Zealand still struggling with identifying hate crimes, but Jewish community hopeful for improvement

Forty percent of hate crime complaints are recorded improperly or downgraded, according to a report published recently by New Zealand police department.  

Juliet Moses, a spokesperson for the New Zealand Jewish Council responded to the report findings, said that while further training was still clearly needed, the new system of recording hate crimes was nevertheless an improvement: “It is very important that if something does constitute a criminal offense it is recorded as such and acted on appropriately so that people aren't walking around without being held to account.”  

"The point of this is that these crimes are monitored, so that we have better evidence, and we understand what is going on in the community, and obviously can act on that accordingly," Moses added.  

Police have started working with advocacy and community groups to improve their system. According to the report, forty-three percent of hate crimes recorded by the police are downgraded to lower-level crimes. 

Police in New Zealand only started recognizing hate crimes last year, as a response to the Christchurch terror attack in March 2019. The new protocol requires police to log hate crimes in the National Intelligence Application (NIA) database and in the police’s dispatch system database. However, the report noted that even with the new system in place, crimes are not properly logged.  

The Police Association President Chris Cahill said, “It's really important that what's recorded actually identifies significant problems that need to be addressed, and I'd hate that to be lost in the idea of ticking a box every time there is something.” 

“Police has been consistently improving how hate or prejudice is captured as a contributing factor to crime or incidents in our recording system,” Cahill added.