New Zealanders who make racist attacks could soon be charged with committing a hate crime, the Police Commissioner has revealed.
Commissioner Mike Bush said this morning that police were investigating whether a specific category of hate crime should be created in New Zealand.
It comes after an incident in Huntly on the weekend in which a Muslim woman was racially abused.
Speaking to a select committee at Parliament, Bush said there were anecdotal reports that such offences were on the rise, though it was difficult to measure because police did not keep records of this type of offending.
It was unclear whether the crimes were occurring more often or whether they were receiving more coverage, Bush said. Nor was it possible to know whether the anecdotal reports related to racist, homophobic or other attacks.
Police were discussing with the Human Rights Commission whether a specific hate crime offence should be written into the law.
“We have crime categories at the moment … that do apply, but we are just working through the pros and cons of whether or not it would be the right thing,” Bush said.
In the Huntly case, the attacker Megan Sarah Louise Walton was charged with behaving in an insulting manner that was likely to cause violence. She was also charged with two acccounts of assault after abusing Muslim woman Mehpara Khan outside a public toilet near State Highway 1 on Saturday.
Bush said police were looking at whether it was appropriate to have “a more relevant and specific piece of legislation” to cover similar offending.
And so it continues as we enter phase 4.
– Isaac Davison, NZ Herald