Why so few Asians on the beat?

Figures from the Police Minister show that New Zealanders of Asian origin are woefully under-represented on the police force, Green Party Immigration spokesperson, Keith Locke said today.

In answers supplied to written questions from Mr Locke, the Minister admitted that just 0.6 per cent of the nation’s police officers, just 35, identified that they were, at least in part, of Asian origin.

“This compares with 238,176 people — or 6.4 per cent of the population — who claimed Asian ethnicity in last year’s census,” said Mr Locke.

The figures raise serious questions about how a huge segment of New Zealand society can have confidence in a body on which they are so under-represented.

“The situation is even worse in Auckland City, with just seven officers (1.4 per cent) of Asian origin, and North Shore, with just two officers (0.4 per cent)” said Mr Locke. “Compare that with census figures of 23,622 people (10.7 per cent of the local population) of Asian origin in Northern Auckland and 64,755 (18 per cent) in Central Auckland.

“How can the police expect to handle issues within the Asian community — such as the activities of overseas-based Triads — when they have no empathy or insight into the cultural sensitivities of that community?

“The onus is on the Government to put in place policies and funding to build a police force that is fully representative of the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic make-up of this country.

“The Green Party urges the Police Minister to take urgent action to recruit officers from those sectors of the community so drastically under-represented at present.”