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Maori ticket policy not racist: watchdog

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/06/2016

A directive telling South Auckland police officers to not give tickets to unlicensed Maori drivers was badly worded, but not discriminatory, the police watchdog says.

Last year it was claimed Counties Manukau officers were briefed to not ticket Maori drivers who didn't have a licence and to instead refer them to community support.

It prompted a number of complaints about racism and discrimination. In a report into the policy on Thursday, the Independent Police Conduct Authority said the "Action Plan" was poorly written and had been intended to give discretion to officers about ticketing.

It said the directive specified "ALL Maori drivers" caught in breach of their licence conditions should be "given compliance", but chalked this up to the plan being written hastily.

"The poorly written action plan did not override the fact that traffic compliance is available to any driver, regardless of race," said authority chairman Sir David Carruthers.

The investigation found some officers had queried the wording of the plan but were told there "was room for discretion in this area, and just to use a common sense approach".

The district crime manager told authority the wording should have said "all Maori should be considered for compliance", rather than given compliance.

Counties Manukau Police have since reworded the plan.

The plan was part of the police's `Turning of the Tide' strategy, launched in 2012, in a bid to reduce victimisation of and offending by Maori.

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