National leader Judith Collins denies systemic racism in police

Judith Collins denies there is systemic racism in police, despite Māori making up 43 percent of police prosecutions and 52.7 percent of the prison population

The National leader's comments came after the Government announced plans to ban high-risk convicted New Zealanders from owning guns through Firearms Prohibition Orders (FPOs) and enable the seizure of assets obtained through illicit means. 

Collins said on Tuesday that while she welcomed the introduction of FPOs, the Government should have gone further by allowing warrantless searches of violent offenders, otherwise the law change "lacks teeth". 

Despite allegations of racism in police and racial profiling, Collins saw no implications with allowing police to conduct warrantless searches. 

"I think allegations are very easy to make, particularly when the word systemic is added to it. The fact is, is that it's important that we understand that the people who are often the victims of this violence are often Māori."

Collins was asked if there is systemic racism in police.

"No, absolutely not," she said. 

"I was the Minister of Police for four years. In that time, I saw police go absolutely out of their way to represent all New Zealanders and I believe that any accusation that police are systemically racist is frankly wrong and I will not ever agree with that unless I saw it myself.

"What I've seen time and time again are people in the police who really go the extra yard and I can't believe that people who do all that work try so hard to save children and save families, to then say that about them..."

Judith Collins and Simeon Brown
National leader Judith Collins and police spokesperson Simeon Brown. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Collins denied targeting gangs could disproportionately affect Māori.

"Anyone who says it's simply a Māori problem simply has not had a look at some of the gangs that have been prolific over the years, like the Hell's Angels and the Head Hunters. These are not traditionally Māori gangs though there are people there who are Māori," she said.

"The fact we've seen 2500 patched gang members extra to what there were when Labour took over tells us that what we were doing was clearly better than what they were doing."

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer wasn't surprised by Collins' denial of racism within police. 

"Judith Collins doesn't think racism exists anywhere.... The reality is, it does exist, the stats show us that, and that's what must stop."

Police Minister Poto Williams told Newshub Nation over the weekend the overrepresentation of Māori and Pacific people in police prosecutions isn't good enough. 

"We should be supporting all the initiatives that we can to make sure that we reduce the overrepresentation of Māori and Pacific in charges."

Williams pointed to the research partnership between police and Waikato University to help better inform police in their work to prevent crime and help inform better decision-making. 

"The police are being very open about looking at who they stop and who they speak to, how they charge and what those charging decisions are like.

"I think what it points to is the police understand we have a problem here where we've got disproportionate numbers of Māori and Pacific going into the system. 

"Let's look at how we make those charging decisions."

Williams said in Parliament on Tuesday she supports the police in assessing how to reduce the amount of Māori and Pacific people charged by police.