I can’t say if Police Ten 7 should be pulled off the air I don’t watch the show.
Ultimately, it’s going be a called for TVNZ and the police based on two things I’d say: whether it’s still a ratings success for TVNZ, and whether it’s still helping to solve crimes for the police.
Because let’s not forget, this show is not just about entertainment – although that undoubtedly is part of it – but it’s also about catching crooks. Last year, 20 cases were solved using information from viewers.
But actually, this argument is bigger than Police Ten 7. This is an argument about whether police are racist.
And there are plenty of people who think they are because 54 percent of people in our prisons are Māori or Pasifika, 66 percent of young people arrested in 2018 were Māori, and, in this particular iteration of the argument, Police Ten 7 is targeting brown people, according to Meng Foon.
And that’s what this is: this is the same argument wrapped up in Police Ten Seven
So are they? Or, are they just doing their jobs, arresting criminals whatever the colour of their skin.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster was asked about alleged police racism last week and he argued there are problems upstream, even before police get involved.
What I thought he was trying to diplomatically say is that perhaps the reason Māori are over-represented in crime stats is because they’re also over-represented in a whole bunch of other stats that can go hand in hand with crime: poverty, poor education, joblessness.
You and I can argue about where this started. I’m of the firm belief there is a direction line back to dispossession of land, but possibly that’s an argument for another day.
But the point is, if we want these stats to change, then we need the proportion of Māori in poverty and other negative indicators to come down first, through a solution like perhaps Bill English’s social investment policy.
But we’re not going to change a damn thing by telling police they’re racist for arresting people who are committing crimes.