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Police minister pursuing law change to allow photographing of rangatahi

Chris Hipkins is seeking legal advice to allow police to continue photographing rangatahi after a report found the actions of some officers were illegal. Picture/ File / NZME

The police minister has not ruled out changing the law to allow police to continue taking the photos and fingerprints of rangatahi.

Minister Chris Hipkins has told the annual police association conference that he would support police in their legal challenge of a report that criticised the collection of youths' fingerprints and photographs.

Five youth in the Wairarapa had their photos and fingerprints unlawfully taken, according to a report published by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Privacy Commissioner last month.

The report said police procedures needed to be drastically changed, but Hipkins told those at the police association he believed photography was a crucial component of intelligence gathering.

"I think [the move] will certainly slow down the identification of an increasing number of youth offenders," Hipkins said.

“I wouldn't take off the table the potential for Parliament to take further action to support the police".

Hipkins claimed most of photos and fingerprints were provided voluntarily, but the review said multiple teens were forced to provide what were called voluntary fingerprints or photographs, which was a way for police to get around the law.

Legislative change according to Hipkins, is still a ways off but that ‘one way or the other’ but he was seeking advice from crown law.

“I do agree that voluntary finger-printing, for example, particularly where parental consent is there, ruling that out I think would be short-sighted." Hipkins said.


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