Police-migrant relations will suffer with roadside checks

The Green Party voiced concern today that roadside immigration checks will sour relations between police and the migrant community.

“The new measures will be to the detriment of good policing,” said Mr Locke, the Green Party’s Police spokesperson.

“Migrants will be less motivated to cooperate with the police on criminal matters if they are being targeted as potential overstayers.

“It is inevitable that there will be racial targeting under the new instructions. Traffic police always have a choice of who to stop.

“Unfortunately, officers will tend to choose people who look like migrants, probably because the officer feels that they might score a double — nab a traffic offender and get bonus points for an overstayer arrest.

“It has been a long, hard struggle to get new migrants to trust the police, and to make the force more representative of migrant communities.

“All this good work could go down the drain if the police are now seen to be discriminating against new New Zealanders in their policing of the highways.

“We don’t have some new and overwhelming overstayer problem that would justify giving the police a frontline role. The Government appears to be spooked by Winston Peters’ anti-immigrant campaign,” he said.

Mr Locke also raised safety concerns surrounding the targeting of migrant drivers.

“People with nothing to lose might feel compelled to make a run for it, with potentially disastrous results. It shouldn’t take a tragedy for the police and immigration ministers to realise the mistake they’ve made by allowing roadside immigration checks.”