Police Minister open to strengthening laws around hate speech

Stuart Nash says every "hate speech" complaint is investigated by police but says he's open to strengthening hate speech law if required.

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Stuart Nash said the next phase of gun changes will look at vetting processes, storage and licencing. Source: Q+A

Mr Nash, the Police Minister, was asked on TVNZ1's Q+A if New Zealand could expect to see police displaying less tolerance to hate speech in public and online in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks.

"We do allow police to use their discretion, but what I will say is police investigate every complaint that comes to them around hate speech," Mr Nash said. 

"We don't actually prosecute for hate speech per se. We can for offensive behaviour or assault, and hate speech or a hate crime actually is an aggravating consideration when determining what charge a person will face."

Mr Nash said he's open to new legislation that would help guide police in making decisions about whether to prosecute hate crimes.

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Q+A interviews Stuart Nash as questions are raised about a potential gun register in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack. Source: Q+A

"They [police] do use their discretion at this point in time," Mr Nash said. "If a review determines that perhaps we need to strengthen this, then we will take a look at that."

He said if police do decide to charge a person for reported hate crime or hate speech, "then the hate version of that is an aggravating feature in terms of determining the charge the person will face".