29 Aug 2016

Chinese in NZ unhappy with efforts to tackle crime

8:24 pm on 29 August 2016

Many Chinese in New Zealand are not happy with how police are tackling crime, according to new research findings.

Political pollster Andrew Zhu designed the online questionnaire.

Political pollster Andrew Zhu designed the online questionnaire. Photo: RNZ / Sarah Robson

Close to 12,000 people responded to the online poll, which has been widely shared on Chinese social media site Wechat.

The survey found just over 60 percent of respondents were worried about public safety and over 90 percent were not happy with measures to combat crime.

The crime they were most fearful of was burglary (85 percent), closely followed by robbery (84 percent).

More on this story: PM reassures Chinese community over crime

It came after several incidents in Auckland in recent weeks where Chinese people have been the victims of crime, prompting calls for greater action from the community and police.

In one of those incidents, Taiyi Wang's flatmate opened the door of their Henderson house to a stranger and ended up being assaulted.

That incident left him wondering whether Auckland was as safe as he thought it was.

"Before this thing happened, I feel quite safe, but after that I feel like somebody else was watching my house every night and I'm afraid that some guy will knock on the door and do the same thing to me."

Mr Wang said he was thinking about installing security cameras and alarms at home, but that was no guarantee he would be safe.

He had been in New Zealand for three years, but said things seemed to have taken a turn for the worse recently.

"For the first two years I feel comfortable, safe, walking along, especially at night in the streets or suburbs or city, but now I don't think I will do that."

'Matter of urgency'

It was people like Mr Wang and his flatmate who Andrew Zhu said he was trying to help by setting up the survey.

Dr Zhu is a political pollster and director of Trace Research, and said he was spurred into action after one of his friends was attacked in her Northcote restaurant.

"I didn't expect someone close to me to get attacked, attacks happened in the past - international students, travellers - and this time it's getting closer and closer into my circle of friends."

Because of their previous experiences, Dr Zhu said many Chinese people had lost faith in the police and did not bother to report crimes.

He said more needed to be done to change Chinese perceptions of the police.

Lawyer and Auckland Council local board member Susan Zhu said police were doing a good job and were making an effort to engage with the Chinese community.

But she said police numbers had not kept up with population growth, especially in Auckland.

"This is not very good, and unsustainable, and I think this issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency before the public loses faith in the police."

Ms Zhu said action needed to come from the highest levels.

"The government needs to ensure all the government agencies, including the police, have enough resources to do their job properly."

Ms Zhu said while police statistics didn't show any increase in crime against Asian people generally, recent events had left the Chinese community feeling otherwise.

In a statement, police said there was no evidence to suggest Chinese people had been specifically targeted.

They said police worked closely with Māori, Pacific and Asian communities to address their concerns, and urged anyone who was feeling unsafe to talk to them.

Prime Minister John Key wrote an open letter last week to the Chinese community to reassure them the government was taking crime seriously.

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