Police electoral prosecutions

One News reports:

The Association is signalling will take a tougher line over complaints of a political nature following the John Banks donations case.

Isn’t that a statement that the Commissioner should make, not the union? I’m a fan of the Police Association, but AFAIK they don’t decide prosecutions.

Police Association President Greg O’Connor has told ONE News the case has taught the police a lesson.

Mr O’Connor says he thinks in the past there has been a tendancy in the police to think of such cases as political spats with no winners, and that whatever the police do, they’re going to get criticised.

“So best just do the investigation and don’t get involved in any political stoush,” he says.

Sadly this is right. Their decisions around the 2005 over-spending were disgraceful, and showed not just cowardice but great ignorance of the actual law.

“I think this case has changed the game and I think from now on every case, every complaint will be looked at very differently.”

Mr O’ Connor says “the ante has been upped” and the police may well need to set up some more specialist ability to investigate such complaints.

Well overdue. They haven’t even made decisions on most of the 2011 cases referred to them by the Electoral Commission. Their inaction makes a farce.

Labour’s Justice spokesman Andrew Little says the police seem to find it difficult to make the judgement call on whether or not to prosecute over political complaints.

Mr Little says a new body could be established or a new unit set up within the Electoral Commission to deal with these cases.

I’ve long advocated that. Have submitted to the last two general elections reviews on it. But none of the parties in Parliament have ever backed a change to remove prosecutions from the Police. It would be a good thing if they do.

But Greg O’Connnor says that would be just adding another layer of bureaucracy.

“Look, all these different bodies that are set up, usually they’re done because you can’t trust the current investigative body,” he says.

Well the Police have shown themselves unwilling or incompetent in 2005, 2008 and 2011 when it comes to electoral law investigations. I say three strikes and you’re out.

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