Community Policing and the Syrian Refugee Community in Wellington District

Author: Tohill, Yvette
Published in National Security Journal, 08 March 2021

Par­ticipants identified drivers licence training as a potential opportunity for members of the Syrian community. While women could benefit from support in this area, cultural or family dynamics may influence the receptivity of this opportunity. There is a need to recognise the equality of opportunity that New Zealand can provide, and partner in a way that is sensitive to the cultural needs of a community, yet still allows individuals to utilise the opportunities provided.

Issues identified within communities may not sit within the power or influence of the New Zealand Police, as reported by Participant Five:

Knowing our limits, that it not always – it’s hardly ever a Police issue. It’s a social, economic, mental health.

Strong relationships across government services will ensure where cross over exists, concerns can be heard and understood through a lens that considers culture or back­ground within any solutions identified. One of the aims of The New Zealand Police Ethnic Strategy is to:

Encourage a greater responsiveness to ethnic communities from social sector partners so that Police work is better supported by appropriate services.61

While this shows a commitment to improving the response to ethnic communities, findings suggest this strategy has not filtered down to those at the coal-face of policing. Only one of the Police participants spoken to were aware of the existence of a strategy to support ethnic communities, and it did not play a large part in their day- to-day operations. Participants recommended that consistency in approaches and agreements between services at a national level would be beneficial to ensuring expectations were well managed. This suggests that if these agreements do exist, they have not produced guidelines in the operational environment. Echoing the conclusions of Ben-Porat regarding Canadian research, the gap from strategy to operations that has been identified indicates that to achieve success, Police management need to be more than just intellectually committed.62

Managing Expectations

Managing expectations was a significant consideration identified by a number of participants. This reflects similar findings by Kadri in terms of the gap between expectations and service delivery for refugees regarding housing and employment services.63 The solvability of crime, potential justice outcomes, limited resources and support or influence with services outside of the Police role are just some of the ways in which these expectations were found to manifest. Some outlooks could come about due to a lack of knowledge, such as a lack of distinction