Friday, November 18, 2022

More police racism

The police annual report was released this month, with the usual statutory information on surveillance warrants and DNA samples. And it turns out there's some shocking evidence of racism among the latter:

The proportion of youth DNA samples collected by police that belong to rangatahi Māori continues to rise, while the figures for other ethnicities reduce.

For the year ended June 2020, 63 percent of bodily samples taken of people aged 14 to 17 were Māori, and 22 percent were European. 

But for the year ended June 2022, that proportion for Māori had increased to 69 percent, while the European figures dropped to 18 percent. 

The total number of young people providing bodily samples overall under the provisions in the Criminal Investigations Act has dropped, but the practice remains controversial.

There are obvious parallels here with the police's unlawful photographing of kids, for which they were recently excoriated by the Privacy Commissioner and Independent Police Conduct Authority. Though in this case there's explicit statutory authority for collection, there's also obvious questions about the reality of "consent" for samples obtained that way, and about who they choose to collect from in the first place and why.

But I think there's also questions which we need to ask about removal. Various provisions of the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act 1995 require samples to be removed from the databank when their retention period expires. Are the police actually complying with these provisions, or actually retaining stuff forever? And do they even have any procedures to check retention dates and whether someone has actually been convicted of a relevant offence? Because judging by their data-handling around photos, the answer is "probably not". And the Privacy Commissioner should absolutely be checking to make sure that they are complying with the law.