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Unlicensed Maori drivers not ticketed

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/06/2015
Police © File Police

Police Commissioner Mike Bush is defending the use of discretion when ticketing drivers amid reports Maori drivers are being let off fines in south Auckland.

Maori drivers caught without a licence or in breach of their conditions in south Auckland don't get a ticket and are instead referred to training, TVNZ reported on Tuesday, citing leaked documents from the strategy Turning of the Tide.

Mr Bush says the policy documents could have been worded better but the intent is good.

"This means taking innovative approaches and working in partnership with iwi to ensure that we are doing all we can to keep Maori safe, as we do for everyone in our communities," Mr Bush says.

He says suggestions Maori in Counties Manukau district are getting preferential treatment for traffic offences are misleading because for 10 years police have had discretion to give drivers time to fix a problem.

All New Zealanders may be offered traffic compliance if they meet the criteria, regardless of their ethnicity, he says.

"I acknowledge the 18 month old document reported in the media from Counties Manukau district could have been worded better and we will change that.

"Nevertheless its intent was good, given the reality is that Maori are significantly over-represented in deaths and injuries associated with road trauma."

He encouraged people to read the Turning of the Tide strategy.

TVNZ reported a panel looks at why the person doesn't have a licence and then provides some support.

They cop the $400 fine if they don't get their licence within two months.

Earlier Superintendent Wally Haumaha denied the policy was a race issue.

"It's based on the fact that they are a significant part of the problem so we're working with the problem," he told the broadcaster.

Police say the ticket scheme is working, however they were unable to say how many drivers had avoided the fine since the scheme began last year.

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