Nearly one in five of the Aboriginal men in New South Wales appeared before a court charged with a criminal offence in a single year.

The figure for indigenous men aged 20-24 was over 40 percent.

The Research by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics covered court appearances for 2001.

A paper produced by the Bureau argued that the root cause for these figures was not police bias but simply “high rates of involvement in serious crime” by Aboriginals.

However, the director of Sydney University’s Institute of Criminology, Chris Cuneen, disagreed, saying that most criminologists believed systemic bias against Aboriginal people still existed.

Brendan Thomas, executive officer of the NSW Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council, said that big concentrations of police near some indigenous communities showed there was still a bias.

Aborigines were heavily policed in public spaces for minor offences such as using offensive language, which enmeshed them young in the criminal justice system.

“In one local government area Aboriginal people were arrested at 80 per cent higher than the state average for offensive language”, Mr Thomas said. “Are the people likely to be 80 times more offensive than any other area?”.

(Source: Sydney Morning Herald)

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