Auckland's police questioned for inaction in assault cases

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail People's Daily, April 6, 2016
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A recent spate of violent attacks on Asian students in Auckland has raised concerns about public safety, particularly in minority communities. In light of the attacks, many people are now wondering: is Auckland still safe?

Victims from a spate of attacks on Asian students living in New Zealand have been left covered in blood after being slashed with knives and screwdrivers. [Screenshot/Photo]

Victims from a spate of attacks on Asian students living in New Zealand have been left covered in blood after being slashed with knives and screwdrivers. [Screenshot/Photo]

Two female Chinese students who attend the University of Auckland and a male Chinese student at the New Zealand National Institute were attacked and robbed in Auckland on the evening of March 22 and the morning of March 24 respectively. In addition, two female Japanese students suffered similar misfortunes on the evenings of March 22 and March 28. Altogether six young people were left bloodied, battered and terrified after the assaults.

Inspector Joe Tipene of the Auckland Police Department says the four violent attacks aren't necessarily related. There is no evidence showing that this series of crimes is targeting any particular ethnicity. Tipene’s statement is somewhat reassuring to Auckland’s Asian students and the larger Asian community, but there are still concerns.

Dr. David Mayeda, a sociologist with Auckland University, says that international students are more likely to be targeted by criminals, perhaps because they are not as familiar with the environment around them. They tend to inadvertently put themselves at more risk. There is also a widespread complaint in the Chinese and international student communities that the current law enforcement and judicial system in New Zealand take "special care" of certain ethnic groups or specific populations, namely indigenous Maori and Pacific Islanders.

Auckland police confirmed on April 1 that they have arrested 10 suspects and the investigation continues. However, the overall police response to the incidents has been disappointing to many. In addition to "sympathy," all the police have really offered is advice that people to walk only in well-lit areas, and preferably not alone. That statement has become the target of many critics online.

Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff says that as New Zealand's only "super city," Auckland has been facing a shortage of police officers. In his opinion, a bigger police presence and more resources are the first steps toward solving the problem.

According to the New Zealand Police Department, the country is divided into 12 police districts; the Auckland Police Department is one of the smallest, despite the fact that it has the largest number of residents. The Auckland department is then further divided into three administrative branches, which together are responsible for 42 million permanent residents and 40,000 international students. Meanwhile, there are fewer than 1,000 Auckland police officers.

Goff also stated that he was shocked to learn that among the 10 suspects arrested by police so far, five were minors. The youngest suspect is 12.

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