Hate crimes law so that the Police can collect stats?!

datePosted on 18:18, February 21st, 2009 by Anita

TV3 had a piece in the first segment tonight about the Police wanting hate crimes legislation. Oddly they twice said that the reason the Police want the change in legislation is so that they can collect statistics on racially motivated crimes.

This makes me puzzle about four things:

  1. What are the racially motivated incidents that the Police currently can’t prosecute but would like to?
  2. Can’t the motivation of a crime already be used as part of the sentencing decision?
  3. If the Police want to capture statistics about racially motivated crimes why can’t they do that now?
  4. The Police are abysmal at responding to information requests, often saying they don’t have the data (even when it’s clear they once did), what would they do with these extra statistics?

Either way around, I’d be pretty uncomfortable with the idea that something is criminal because it is motivated by racism, rather than because of its actual outcomes – if you hit someone because they’re Asian it’s just as wrong as hitting them because they’re queer, or remind you of your ex, or because you’d had too much to drink.

[I recommend Rich and Lew‘s posts about hate speech legislation which canvas some of this area]

7 Responses to “Hate crimes law so that the Police can collect stats?!”

  1. MacDoctor on February 21st, 2009 at 21:50

    There seems to be perfectly adequate legislation in place for the vast majority of “hate crimes”. For example, the clip of two skinheads beating up four asians, used on the news tonight, does not need “hate crime” legislation. Both of those morons were sent up for assault, as they should have been.

  2. Lew on February 21st, 2009 at 22:27


    I agree. And there is additional social opprobrium attached to overt hate crimes, as well.

    None of my arguments in favour of hate speech legislation apply to hate crime legislation, unless laws which already exist go unenforced in the case of hate crime, which I don’t think they do.

    Anyhow, why would a new law be needed to define certain crimes as such? From a data management perspective, I would expect it would be more useful to attach the designation `hate crime’ as a label to a particular offence regardless of the specific charge laid; this would allow police to mine their whole crime database and come out with numbers like `x proportion of assaults in Auckland committed by Pākehā against Asians were hate crimes’; or `x per cent fewer offences tagged `hate crime’ are successfully prosecuted than the general case’. Such figures gives you a meaningful referent for how much of a problem it is, and a dataset from which KPIs can be drawn for operational anti-hate-crime taskforces and what not.


  3. Pascal's bookie on February 21st, 2009 at 23:08

    I think it depends on how they define ‘hate crime’, and how they determine when some particular crime is one.

    Where you have someone seriously attacked/killed for no other reason than that they belong to a certain group, the attack is meant as a message to that group. It has nothing to do with the individual victim per se. It is in this respect that it differs from other crimes.

    When the KKK set fire to a cross on someone’s front lawn, that’s not just a public nuisance crime.

    When neo nazis stomp on an immigrant, it’s political.

    I’m not convinced that those motivations don’t deserve to be an aggravating factor in terms of how we talk about, and deal with, those particular sorts of crimes.

    I’m certainly more comfortable with hate crime laws than hate speech ones.

  4. Pascal's bookie on February 21st, 2009 at 23:35

    David Neiwert pretty much changed my mind on the matter with this post:


    The point of hate crime law is protect the civil liberties of the victimised groups. No one should have to feel that they have a higher risk of being assaulted or killed because of their colour, mode of worship, or any other identity issue. If they are at higher risk, society should be taking sides.

  5. Ari on February 22nd, 2009 at 11:04

    The motivations deserve to be a factor- elecially “example killings”- but they don’t constitute an offense on their own.

  6. Michael on February 22nd, 2009 at 23:41

    The cops are calling for “Hate Crime” laws?

    Like Terrorism Suppression Act wasn’t going to be used against the snail lovers and Green Party members, yeah right.

    As for the invasion of Ruatoki, where they picked up three or four firearms. That was totally over the top and an excercise in Police Terror to justify the need for the TSA.

    So why the new law again? Is it so they can prosecute Senior Police in Auckland who said he never trusts anyone he can blind fold with a shoe lace. Oh righ he left himself.

    The Police can’t have any new laws untill they can use properly the one they have now (well that’s what Mum would say).

  7. Anita on February 23rd, 2009 at 12:31

    Michael writes,

    The Police can’t have any new laws untill they can use properly the one they have now (well that’s what Mum would say).

    Can we also take away their powers one by one to teach them consequences? :)

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