Gisborne Police venerate George Orwell

July 30th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Minister Judith Collins has urged Gisborne and to sit down and work out a solution to a dispute in over local law enforcement’s decision to stop giving reporters details of crimes in the area.

Media groups have criticised a move to restrict information on crime available to journalists and the public in Gisborne,

But police boss Inspector Sam Aberahama says the move is intended to make the community feel safer.

So Inspector Plod think his job is to make the community feel safer by concealing news on crime from the news media and the public.

Can I make the radical suggestion that the community would feel safer if the Police prevented crime from occurring, rather than merely preventing the reporting of said crime.

UPDATE: I am informed the original story didn’t cover the salient fact of exactly what change the Police have made. They are still releasing news to the media, they just no longer have a journalist attend their daily staff briefing – a practice that was unique to Gisborne. While I still think the comments of the Inspector are stupid and deserve clobbering, I do think it is reasonable to not have media present at staff meetings.

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36 Responses to “Gisborne Police venerate George Orwell”

  1. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    On the other hand, most crime waves *are* caused by increased reporting of crime, rather than an actual increase in crime. I read a story years ago when two competing reporters had the entire city of New York in fear simply because they were producing more stories – the level of crime was the same.

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  2. Colonel Masters (409 comments) says:

    And in other news, we have always been at war with Eastasia…

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  3. Nick R (507 comments) says:

    I would have thought this is precidely the sort of Police conduct the Minister would encourage, bearing in mind her recent comments about how irresponsible reporting in the media was undermining public confidence and respect in the Police. As long as we are told the Police are doubleplus good and the criminals are doubleplus ungood everything will be fine.

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  4. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    Vernerate Orwell? Or perhaps Minitrue and Big Brother? I always thought that this was what Orwell was generally warning against in his political writings. However, I may have that wrong! It does seem very paternalistic, though.

    Scrubone makes a very good point- the level of crime is generally falling on a nationwide level, and has been for quite some time. The media, with the powerful position they occupy as the main purveyors of news, have the ability to make matters seem much worse than they are. This is usually accomplished by sloppy reporting, usually in sensationalising matters going through the Courts.

    However, the Courts do operate on the principle of open justice, so the Police should be giving whatever information the media are legally entitled to without filtering it. And I say that while still being a supporter of the concept of name suppression of all alleged offenders until conviction!

    Of course, the Police are not averse to manipulating the media, either. Witness their abhorrent attempts to use the media to bully witnesses/potential suspects in the Kahui case who were exercising their Bill of Rights guaranteed right to silence. The media, simple creatures that they are, generally don’t seem aware of when they are being used in such a manner!

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  5. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Try making them ACTUALLY safer. Just a thought.

    The only thing people lose when they are robbed is their illusions.

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  6. backster (2,172 comments) says:

    I agree with the comments of Councilor (former Police Officer) Davidson and Grey Power Spokesperson READ, the policy is illogical and counter productive. Publicity and Enquiry brings forth information , further witnesses, further avenues of enquiry, often disclosing a pattern. Suppression seems designed to avoid doing anything about the crime,fools the populous into a false sense of security and wellbeing, and enables the Boffins to avoid responsibility. Fear of crime motivates and enables people to take action to enhance their own personal and property security.

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  7. bearhunter (853 comments) says:

    Idiotic behaviour. And if the Gisborne Herald wants the info, all it has to do is ring the Commissioner’s office. Once Howard gets a couple of calls from the media, he’ll be down on top of the area commander like a ton of bricks. Head office doesn’t like to upset the media.

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  8. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    “fools the populous into a false sense of security and wellbeing,”
    “Fear of crime motivates and enables people to take action to enhance their own personal and property security”

    I am not sure I like your take on why we should have publicity, backster. The idea of open justice and the ability of the media to report on criminal matters is not to aid in Police investigations but to ensure that the process of law enforcement and criminal justice is subjected to scrutiny. History shows that where Police forces are not subjected to such scrutiny or where they are protected from criticism by the Government and/or the Courts, they begin to consider themselves above the law. Take the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad as an example of that.

    The idea that publicity gains further information, witnesses and so on is only true for 1% of the cases that the Police deal with. The reason the Gisborne Policy policy is wrong is not because it hinders them, but because it hinders the public from knowing what is happening in the area of law enforcement.

    But, as I said, to want to create a climate of fear of crime has to be wrong. To do so would make matters worse within society and lead to a bunker mentality among the populace. That has to be worse rather than better, surely?

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  9. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    “Scrubone makes a very good point- the level of crime is generally falling on a nationwide level, and has been for quite some time.”

    Yes, thefts are down, but violent crime is up. Frankly, that’s hardly an improvement.

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  10. helmet (807 comments) says:

    Aberahama = arrogant dumbfuck.
    The concern about creating a climate of fear is nonsense, we’re talking about the Gisborne Herald here- it’s a folksy, quaint little local newspaper. The quality of the journalism is, well, pretty average really, they simply report what’s going on with very little discernable bias as far as I can tell and they certainly never seem to be chasing stories to create issues that aren’t already discernable by astute members of the public.
    There’s no desire (and to be honest I doubt that the journalistic talent exists at the newspaper) to create a climate of fear, they simply want to report what’s going on- and as we all already know- Gisborne (like any other similar socio-economic environment) has a bit of a crime problem. Big fucking deal.

    Sadly it appears that Mr Aberahama is motivated by his own desire to conceal the reporting of his own force’s incompetence in the area of crime prevention rather than a genuine concern with making the community safer, another widely known fact in the community.

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  11. bearhunter (853 comments) says:

    It’s not the first time this has happened. Back when I was a provincial police reporter, one senior sergeant in particular seemed to think he was a better judge of news value than I was. When I’d ring up to find out what had happened in the previous 24 hours he’d invariably reply “Nothing of interest to you” and hang up. So I’d ring the comms centre and find out what the score was, which is all the Herald has to do.

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  12. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    I could totally understand if it were a case of an in progress operation or time sensitive info pertaining to an open case but a blanket ban.

    oops, he didn’t do democracy 101 or media relations at police college did he?
    I’m sure Police HQ will “counsel ” him on this.

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  13. MT_Tinman (3,188 comments) says:

    I think it’s an absolute disgrace that poor wee East Coast reporters will no longer be given crime story details by police.

    Next people will be demanding they actually go out and find real stories to report on.

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  14. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    Recently it has been at a relatively consistent level, scrubone. Long term it is trending downards, after a peak in the 90s. Violent crime covers everything from the serious stuff to the most minor of assaults and threats. I have seen what the Police are willing to charge people over and I suspect that the numbers are a bit inflated by the small stuff. Also, reports of crimes and the level of actual offending are two very different things.

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  15. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    I’m a supporter of the police and law and order,but if as reported (to make the community feel safer) then this is just plain silly managerialism.

    A few more bobbies on the beat will do nicely, thank you.

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  16. yankdownunder (31 comments) says:

    The police are pretty much informing us that we are to surender a civil liberty. The police must have a very low opinion of the public mental capacity if they think we would feel safer if told less. This is full on propaganda, and an abridgement of our constitutional civil rights. In the Bill of Rights, there is an article that talks of “freedom of expression”. In this article, the freedom to ask for and recieve information is adressed. Don’t the police know about this before they do something like this?
    If “knowlege is power” why are the police trying to take this power from us. The power that is in the reporting of crime is of accountability and restraint.

    Well, that explains it, the police do not want to be held accountable or restrained.

    This can only happen if the uninformed public rolls over and allows this.

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  17. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Perhaps the Police are too busy fighting crime, to be bothered with spoon-feeding the local media information, their stock-in-trade, for free?

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  18. Brian Harmer (687 comments) says:

    If I read the story correctly, he is coming into line with the rest of the country. Gisborne was the last police district in the country still providing a comprehensive list of crime reports to the media. All the rest of the regions did this long ago. Why the outrage now?

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  19. bearhunter (853 comments) says:

    Brian – the rest of the country’s copshops still provide details on crimes to the relevant police reporters. I don’t know where you got the idea that they don’t.

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  20. Brian Harmer (687 comments) says:

    bearhunter: “Gisborne Area Commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said police had stopped supplying the lists to other New Zealand newspapers several years ago. The Gisborne Herald was one of the last newspapers in the country to receive the list.” Sourced from Stuff

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  21. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    If Mr Plod thinks preventing the reporting of said crime is intended to make the community feel safer.

    When community report said crime to the Plodders it is intended to make the community feel safer.

    For the Plodders then not to reporting it…. then what is the point of the community report crime to them.

    Not Plod .. Plonker.

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  22. burt (8,272 comments) says:

    Well Jolly Jim taught us that suicide prevention can be managed by a black out on suicide reporting. Perhaps there is something in not reporting crime, potential criminals won’t be getting reminders about their options.

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  23. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    DPF:
    the community would feel safer if the Police prevented crime from occurring, rather than merely preventing the reporting of said crime.

    well really DPF you should know better than to make this statement.

    It ain’t the policemans job to stop crime occuring, that’s the reponsibilty of the people committing the crime and the community for allowing that person to do so. Its the policemans job to catch the ciminals. If the consequences are that this stops crime then that’s actually a bonus.

    If every policeman spent his day stopping crime (crimestoppers) then who would catch the criminals and just how many policemen would we need to do this.??

    Actaually, if the reporters had to go do their job instead of interviewing their computers for information the news paper might again be worth purchasing and even the TV news may be worth watching but frankly while most of the headlines are about crime then I can’t be bothered.

    Its necessary to be careful what you fill your head with. Violence and crime is something all heads could do without.

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  24. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    Viking2′
    The basic mission of the police is to prevent and detect crime. This goes back to Sir Robert Peel’s 9 points.

    Senior police and politicians would do well to revise these points as they are the basis to modern policing in the common law world.

    In the context of this debate point 9 is pertinent;
    ‘”The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder,not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”

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  25. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    Kowtow. Maybe but the reality is that we would never have enough policemen given the rate at which laws are promugated in this massive land. I believe that it’s true that we in NZ have more laws on the record the the US of A.
    Why, well they used to have a constitution that spelt out personal responsibility until the lawyers and courts watered it down and Democarat’s legislated commerce with their wish lists.

    If you don’t understand or don’t believe me ask RedBaiter.

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  26. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Fair point although some responsible reporting would not go astray either. A most basic example would be an end to the police pursuit death type headlines.

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  27. Put it away (2,878 comments) says:

    Ummm… doesn’t it make people less safe to let them go around with a false sense of security ?

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  28. Bob R (1,375 comments) says:

    This reminds me of the policy in Sweden to avoid reporting on the race of offenders (that might turn people against multiculturalism). Although there I think it is the media and politicians, rather than the police witholding information.

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  29. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Many years ago I was working late at night putting the local newspaper to bed. There was a knock at our door (we were in the local shopping mall, with an after hours staff entrance; opposite a park; the police patrol base was situated at the edge of the mall carpark).

    I opened it to find a bloke covered in blood, having been mugged in the park opposite. I helped him clean up a bit, gave him a cup of tea to calm him down, then sent him off to see the police. I watched him walk across the carpark so I know he got there.

    A day or so later I did my usual call to get the weekly round up of crime. A few stolen bicycles, the odd burglary, nothing serious going on in our patch I was told. I did some asking round, found other people who’d been bashed, reported it to the police etc. Very few showed up on the weekly reports we were given.

    So I wrote an editorial suggesting that not logging serious crimes so one could sit on one’s backside eating sausage rolls all day wasn’t what the community expected from its police. The response was swift – a demand to my publisher that I be sacked or no information at all would be forthcoming. He told them where to go, and thus began an ongoing enmity.

    That must have been about 22 or so years ago now, so I see nothing has changed. The police always have and always will manipulate statistics to suit their own ends. If they want tasers and guns and money, we’re in the midst of a crime wave. If they want a bit of a lie down, then it’s “nothing happening here, move along”.

    That’s why I’ve never trusted any statistics coming our of Police HQ. Community surveys of crime victims and court statistics are far more reliable indicators.

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  30. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    GPT1 suggests:

    A most basic example would be an end to the police pursuit death type headlines.

    But police chasing the adrenaline rush that comes with driving like they see on TV does kill and injure people, including two 7 & 14 year old girls crossing the road and is concerning coroners, who have to investigate the results.

    To their immense credit, police unions in Australia are agitating to be given GPS tracking units which are fired at fleeing vehicles. Then, rather than chase, police can set roadblocks and / or simply catch the crooks at their destination.

    Governments – who’ve found millions of dollars for hidden speed cameras – are resisting, however. Perhaps NZ could show the way?

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  31. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    Not quite sure what you are saying Rex Wilderstrom.

    If citizens aren’t allowed to defend themselves and their property because the PC brigade starts foaming at the mouth and the police aren’t allowed to pursue criminals and apprehend them, then we are in a pretty bad state of affairs.

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  32. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Banana Llama:

    The device I’ve referred to is supported by front line police… it’s that their bosses won’t fund them because they’re too bust doing the bidding of their political masters and running their roadside cash registers.

    I suggest you watch the videos on the product’s webiste if you don’t understand how it works, and how it can save lives while still allowing criminals to be apprehended.

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  33. cha (4,019 comments) says:

    Crime reporting NOLA style.

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  34. Banana Llama (1,043 comments) says:

    I understand how it works Rex the police will still backing down because the criminal escalates the situation, imo they should be pushing for immobilizes instead of tracking units.

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  35. Done Carein (1 comment) says:

    After reading some of the twisted views in the replies above it is obvious that most people with the biggest opinion don’t have a clue about the subject. Gisborne is a small town in the country and sadly not much happens to enable the press or reporter to fill his newspaper spaces and see his name appear at the bottom of each article. The story itself doesn’t matter. The old saying, why spoil a good story with the truth. We soon end up reading gossip instead of factual news. With regards to the quote.’Inspector Sam Aberahama says the move is intended to make the community feel safer.’ Is that all he said? or did he say something like, ‘the move is intended to ensure factual reporting and make the community feel safer.’ If I was a keen airhead reporter who just stuffed up an opportunity to obtain news, i guess I would be defending my silly actions with a one sided story as payback. The UK have a massive Court Case going on at the moment because of stupid reporters and their personal desire to get that breaking story. The lack of truth and resulting damage caused doesn’t matter.

    I assume the Police briefing is held in the Police Station and in a private part of the building. I suppose it is a bit like me having dinner in my own home. If I want you there I will invite you. If I don’t want you there, you won’t be. My choice. Leave the Policing to the Police and although I know you won’t, give them your support sometimes, be a real part of the crime soloution and then, feel safer.

    For those who think the press should be at police briefings all I can say is, I would like to see reporters sitting in on your next Doctors private consultation and telling the world about it. No difference. Rex, the fact you pointed someone towards the Police Station dosen’t mean his is willing to make a complaint. I’m surprised you didn’t call an ambulance. You say you sent a few victims of bashings to the Police. Where were you when the bashings took place and do you have a witness? I guess that would be another story.

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