October 25, 2022
The current debate over fingerprinting and photographing children is wrongly centered
Minister for Police, Chris Hipkens, is dreadfully mistaken if he thinks making the fingerprinting and photographing of children legal will successfully sidestep criticisms made about the legality of the current practise.
Concerns that Māori children were being illegally fingerprinted and photographed were first raised several years ago and a follow up report by the deputy privacy commissioner found that Police taking fingerprints and photographs of children was illegal.
Chris Hipkens has responded by suggesting he would just make it legal so Police can continue doing what they are doing.
Such a move by the Minister seems grotesquely simplistic.
The Minister argues that children giving fingerprinting is a consensual issue and claims children are only fingerprinted when there is consent, but I struggle to see how that operates in the real world.
Are these children and their guardians being told they have no obligation to provide a fingerprint or are they being told that if they don’t supply one they will face arrest?
How is that power dynamic actually playing out on the street?
Children require MORE legal protections than adults. A Police Officer can not compel me to give them my fingerprints unless I am under arrest, and with that arrest comes a whole set of legal protections and obligations.
Why would we allow our children to have less legal rights than we enjoy as adults?
Surely young people require more protections?
In terms of the photographing the issues of consent are even fuzzier. Police are claiming anyone in public is fair game to photograph, including children whom they simply observe, let alone suspect of anything.
We need to foster respectful relationships between our Law enforcement and kids, but that can’t be possible if we allow the Police uncontested power over our kids legal rights.
The Minister needs to appease an angry community frightened by ram raiding teenagers, we all appreciate that, but allowing him to play politics with our children’s legal rights is an unacceptable price to pay for shop owner security.
Editor – TheDailyBlog.nz