Police considering specific hate crime law

Police are looking to the Government to introduce a law specific to hate crimes.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said hate crimes seem to be on the rise, however police don't specifically record them.

"We are concerned about it, we have seen an increase in crimes of a nature," he told a parliamentary select committee on Wednesday.

Cmmr Bush confirmed police are working with other agencies to look at a specific legislation that covers hate crimes.

"We are working with some of our partners in terms of whether or not it would be appropriate to put something forward in terms of hate crime legislation.

"I think this is being driven across a number of communities and also through the Human Rights Commission."

When asked about how police are seeing a rise in hate crime, Cmmr Bush said "a lot of it is anecdotal".

"So if you saw the news in the weekend, it gets coverage, we have to be very careful to understand whether or not there is an increase or whether or not there is an increase in coverage."

Mike Bush addressing a select committee this morning (Newshub)
Mike Bush addressing a select committee this morning (Newshub)

It comes after a woman verbally abused a group in Huntly, calling them "f**king Muslim bitches", throwing a can of beer at them and allegedly attempting to punch two of them.

Megan Walton, 27, pleaded guilty to two charges of assault and to behaving in an insulting manner likely to cause violence.

Cmmr Bush said about the Huntly attack: "As a commissioner, you never want to see that. You never want to members of communities treated in that way".

Police Minister Paula Bennett says she has seen the Huntly attack video and it is "absolutely abhorrent", but she doesn't think specific hate crime legislation or more specific data is necessary.

"I think the fact that she's been held to account is really important. I don't see the need for specific hate crime legislation at the moment, it's not something that's on our agenda".

Ms Bennett doesn't think New Zealand has seen a rise in hate crimes, saying: "I personally am not seeing an increase."

Police will consult with partner agencies about whether it is necessary to introduce new legislation specific to hate crimes.

"We haven't made a firm decision on which way to go but it's really appropriate that we work with organisations like the Human Rights Commission and the communities that we're here to serve to see what's most appropriate," Cmmr Bush said.


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