Herald queries Police action on court siding

February 23rd, 2015 at 7:28 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Cricket followers were introduced to a new practice, court-siding, during the opening Cricket World Cup match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. The attempt to stamp out this activity, named for its initial use at tennis tournaments, saw police officers, some in plain clothes, patrolling the Hagley Oval in search of spectators using lap-tops or constantly on their cellphones. Later, they revealed that “several” people caught court-siding had been interviewed and removed from the ground. This for an activity that is not actually illegal in this country.

Given that, there is every reason to question the police involvement. This has been highlighted by AUT senior law lecturer Craig Dickson. Court-siding’s only offence, he noted, was that it breached the terms and conditions of World Cup tickets, as prescribed by the International Cricket Council. On that basis, it seems reasonable to conclude that any transgressions should be left to the security staff employed by the ICC.

Absolutely. It is not a criminal matter.

Tags: ,

Police could do more

February 8th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A man who tracked his stolen iPad is disappointed police could not obtain a search warrant to recover it.

The Napier tradesman had the iPad and about $7000 of equipment stolen from his van on Monday evening.

Using the Find My iPad feature, an application that uses GPS to track the device, he tracked it to the suburb of Onekawa. Police applied for a search warrant for a specific address but a police spokeswoman said this was declined “on the basis that there wasn’t enough evidence”.

“While it did “ping” in the [address] vicinity, that is only regarded as a general area and not a specific location. Often with these tracking cases we have found items not in the locations specified by the apps, but nearby,” the spokeswoman said.

She could not say whether police took any further action concerning the man’s complaint, such as making inquiries of the property’s occupants.

 

This isn’t good enough.

Yes sometimes the GPS location is slightly off by 10 metres or so. In built up areas this could mean a different house.

But surely the Police can still make inquiries. Go knock on the door and ask questions. Check if known criminals are at the address or nearby. Ask for permission to check the house. Use the Find My iPad feature to get it to make a loud noise.

Tags:

Arrested for no cycle helmet!

January 29th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Plymouth police have apologised to a couple after their 11-year-old daughter was left stranded on the Coastal Walkway when her father was arrested.

On Monday afternoon Ashley Hoeta was going for a bike ride with his daughter, when he was stopped by a police officer for not wearing a helmet.

Police are cracking down on cyclists who are not wearing helmets.

The officer told Hoeta he would give him a 14-day ticket, which meant if Hoeta could prove he had a helmet he would be let off.

The two exchanged words, Hoeta said.

“I was a bit peeved. There were two people who had just passed me with no helmets and he stopped me.”

He asked the officer if he had anything better to do, Hoeta said.

“I said: ‘If you were in India you could arrest 8 people on one bicycle’.”

Hoeta told the officer to write the ticket and he would check on his daughter, who was wearing a helmet, and had stopped a few metres away.

That’s when the problems started, Hoeta said.

A police car arrived, with two officers and they said they were taking him to the station.

Hoeta was worried about his daughter, but they weren’t interested, he said.

“I got taken away and she got left on walkway. I gave her my phone, said ring Mum.”

In the car the officers asked why Hoeta hadn’t just told their colleague his name and address.

“He hadn’t asked,” Hoeta said.

So he was hauled down to the police station because he didn’t have a cycle helmet. And was forced to abandon his 11 year old daughter.

Every week there seem to be more and more stories of the Police getting out of control.  The scrapping of the speeding tolerance, the targeting of Uber, the squashing of a local Police initiative to test if people are over the drink drive limit, and now dragging someone to the Police station because he had no cycle helmet. It seems like they have lost their sense of priorities.

Tags:

Police told off for being helpful

January 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Plymouth police have been rapped over the knuckles by national headquarters for taking a hospitable approach to those asking for a breath test.

It was reported earlier this month that people often entered the station asking to be tested. Officers, if not too busy, were happy to oblige.

A very sensible approach, helping ensure people don’t break the law.

However, New Plymouth police have now been told their approach does not line up with national policy – and that they should stop immediately.

“While these staff have acted in good faith and with the best of intentions, there is a risk if for example someone initially passes a test, then drives and is found later to be over the limit, or is involved in a crash, which could have tragic consequences,” Central Districts Acting District Commander Inspector Mark Harrison said.

So the Police would rather cover their arse, than help people not break the law.

Harrison said the best advice to those out socialising was “to make the choice whether to drink or drive – not both.”

 

That is not what the law says. Who appointed them moral guardians?

Sergeant Bruce Irvine said at the time that those with any level of alcohol on their breath were advised not to drive because test results could change within minutes.

“We will always say this is here and now; if in 30 minutes you go and drive it could be different,” he said. “It’s not a get-out-of-jail free card. We advise unless you’re breathing zero it’s not worth taking the risk.”

Senior Sergeant Robbie O’Keefe said at the time that people who came in were often unsure if they were over or under and wanted to do the right thing.

If a test deterred them from driving it was a good thing, he said.

The local Police were acting very sensibly – testing those who wanted it, but warning them they should not drive anyway. A pity the Police hierarchy would rather people get arrested after the fact, than make it easy for people to make an informed decision about whether it is safe to legally drive.

 

Tags: ,

Looks like zero tolerance to no longer be tolerated

January 13th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse announced:

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse has asked New Zealand Police to undertake a review of the public messages that underpinned the 2014/15 Summer Road Safety campaign.

“While I firmly support Police’s zero tolerance for poor driving behaviour that can lead to death and injury on our roads, I also support the application of discretion as articulated in the 4kph summer tolerance used in fixed speed cameras and the vast majority of mobile devices,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“I have received considerable public feedback that the speed tolerance message was confusing which has led to some strong public opinions.

 

Considerable public feedback that the public don’t like having to check their speedos every 30 seconds to check they’re not 1 km/hr over the limit.

Good to see the Government listen to the public on this. Would have been better if they had told the Police early on it was a bad idea.

“While this is very much an operational matter for Police, I will be taking a close interest in ensuring the message about road safety is clear and unambiguous.

I predict the Police will reach the same conclusion as the Minister, and decide to get rid of the zero tolerance policy. If not, then they need a bollocking.

Tags: , ,

Police have too much time on their hands

January 12th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police are cracking down on Uber, the cheap and trendy new-kid-on-the-taxi rank, leaving paying customers on the pavement.

After complaints from the old-school taxi firms, police have begun fining the Uber drivers whose lower fares have been hurting the big cab companies.

The private car hire service has hit back, lodging a complaint of police harassment with the Independent Police Complaints Authority. A spokeswoman said police officers put passengers at risk by booting them out of the hired cars.

Uber has taken the world by storm, and is gaining a big chunk of market share in Auckland and Wellington. It is expected to launch in Christchurch and Queenstown this year. But in the biggest city, police confirm they have stopped several Uber drivers and charged them or issued them infringement notices for using their smartphone app as a meter – a breach that would make them subject to tough taxi regulations.

So do I have this right? The Police have so little crime to focus on, that they are pulling over Uber drivers to check whether or not they are charging an up front fare or a per km fare? As if the difference has any impact on safety. It is a commercial issue, not a Police issue.

The Police have operational independence, but again if I was the Minister I’d be telling the Commissioner that he thinks it is a stupid waste of Police time.

Tags: ,

Du Fresne on zero tolerance

January 10th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne writes in the Dom Post:

Human nature is a perverse thing. It consistently thwarts all attempts to coerce us into behaving the way bureaucrats, politicians and assorted control freaks think we should.

Take the road toll. Since early December New Zealanders have been subjected to a ceaseless barrage of police propaganda about the futility of trying to defy speed and alcohol limits.

Stern-looking police officers have been in our faces almost daily, warning that zero tolerance would be shown to lawbreakers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found their lecturing increasingly tiresome and patronising.

There’s been huge resentment against the zero tolerance decision.

The figures suggest that people crash for all manner of reasons, and that the emphasis on speed and alcohol is therefore simplistic. The police focus on speed and booze because these are easy targets, and when the road toll comes down they can take the credit.

In the ideal world envisaged by ever-hopeful bureaucrats, wayward citizens can be managed much as sheep are controlled by heading dogs. But people will never be harangued into driving safely; human nature is just too contrary.

Besides, police crackdowns are only one factor in achieving a lower road toll.

Improved road design, safer cars, better-equipped emergency services and more immediate medical attention all contribute too. It would be interesting to know, for example, how many lives have been saved because of the use of helicopters to get victims promptly to hospital.

Better roads and better cars have had a major impact I believe.

They might also ponder the potential damage done to their public image by the zeal with which they immediately began enforcing the new alcohol limits.

It must have been like shooting fish in a barrel as they set up checkpoints to catch otherwise law-abiding citizens who had inadvertently consumed one glass of sauvignon blanc too many.

It was a formidable display of police power, but how many lives did it save? And how many of the apprehended drivers were left feeling humiliated and angry at being made to feel like criminals for unwittingly doing something that was legal only days before, and that probably posed no danger to anyone?

Police will say, of course, that they were merely enforcing the law. But there is a point at which the benefits of aggressive law enforcement have to be weighed against potential negative consequences, such as public resentment. I’m not sure our police bosses have done this equation.

Nope, they have not.

Tags: ,

Herald on speed tolerance

January 7th, 2015 at 6:38 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

Speed, however, has remained a vexed issue. Hence there has been a progressive lowering of the police’s tolerance, culminating in the zero tolerance policy. This has been criticised by many motorists. Some of their complaints are lame. Those who say it has resulted in them spending too much time with their eyes on their speedometers betray a fundamental lack of driving ability. Nonetheless, it is clear that the police must re-examine where they are enforcing the policy.

The Automobile Association is right when it suggests a focus on drivers doing just over the limit on safe urban motorways is not the best strategy. The scrutiny, it said, should be on speeding in higher-risk areas. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, motorways are, by and large, relatively safe, so much so that the speed limit may soon be raised to 110km/h on some of them. Secondly, there is no point in alienating generally good motorists who are caught slightly over the speed limit in such areas.

Absolutely.

The Automobile Association was also on the right track when it suggested there should be an increased number of median barriers on highways. These, whether concrete, semi-rigid or cable, are not cheap. But they appeal as a means of curtailing the number of head-on crashes involving overseas tourists. The outcome of these impacts is generally more serious than other types of collisions. Improving the country’s roads in this manner offers the most rational response to what has become a notable problem.

I wonder what the impact on road safety would be if say 90% of the money that went on speed cameras and policing of the roads, was redirected to improving our current roads?

Tags: , , , ,

A non emergency number for Police

January 2nd, 2015 at 1:10 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police are considering establishing a single national phone number for non-emergency calls to lighten the load on the 111 system.

An increase in people calling 111 over the past five years has prompted police to think about how to improve the service, and they say that a non-emergency number would mean they could better respond to high-priority incidents.

Figures provided to the Herald under the Official Information Act show police answered more than 628,801 111 calls last year – about 17,000 more than 2013.

They answered 88 per cent of those calls within 10 seconds, with most calls taking just four seconds to be picked up.

Mr Trappitt, who is the national prevention manager, said establishing a second non-emergency number was one of those strategies.

“It is potentially one of the options that we could explore and promote. We are having ongoing discussions.”

They’ve been talking about a non-emergency number for years, probably 10 – 15. Time to stop taling and just do it. Have a (say) 777 number for non-emergencies and 111 for emergencies.

Another option was a smartphone application that would allow people to call 111 and have their location immediately tracked by police.

Mr Trappitt said police, along with Fire Service and ambulance operators, had been in discussions with telecommunications providers and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment about how GPS could be used to help with 111 calls.

That’s a great idea.

Tags:

Police and electoral law

August 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant at NRT blogs:

In 2007 Parliament passed the Electoral Finance Act. One of the changes it made to our electoral law, retained in the subsequent amendments, was to massively increase the penalties for electoral offences. The penalty for a corrupt practice was doubled, from one to two years imprisonment. That for an illegal practice was increased from a $3,000 to a $40,000 fine. The message was clear: Parliament took electoral offending seriously.

Meanwhile, police have stopped prosecuting them entirely.

According to an OIA sent via the FYI system, not a single case resulting from the last election or subsequent by-elections has resulted in prosecution. Instead, police have dealt with even clear cases of double voting with warnings. Eighteen months ago they hadn’t even done that, so its hard to see it as anything other than a conscious push to clear cases off the books, to tick the “resolved” box so the stats look good.

The police’s excuse is that offenders are mostly first-timers and that warnings are appropriate. That may be true in the case of double voters (but even so…). But its certainly not true in the case of political parties violating advertising and donations law.

The Police have failed to do anything for the 2005, 2008 and 2011 elections. Under my version of three strikes, they should be out, and prosecution should transfer to another entity. Even worse than their failure to investigate cases, is the fact they when they did investigate (in 2005) they totally misinterpreted the law, made the most basic errors, and didn’t even understand concepts such as strict liability.

It is time for things to change. When Parliament reviews the 2014 election, they should recommend that the Police no longer be the body to make decision on electoral law prosecutions. It should either go to Crown Law, or rest with the Electoral Commission itself. Also the Electoral Commission should have the power to issue minor fines for minor breaches.

Tags: ,

Party Police want no new bars in Auckland for six years!

August 1st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I hate that the Police have become the wowsers of New Zealand. Well, not quite. They all enjoy a drink themselves, but advocate nanny state for everyone else.

Radio NZ reports:

The police are proposing a six-year ban on any new bars and bottle stores in central Auckland and other regional hot-spots.

Why not just go back to prohibition also.

As a minimum, police want a freeze on the number of liquor licences in some areas. But they would rather have a sinking lid policy, under which no new licences are given even if other bars or shops close down.

Which will probably just lead to more drinking in cars, parks and homes.

Tags: ,

Offensive idiocy

July 9th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Canterbury Television was blocked by police from covering an earthquake memorial event at its former site after an apparent government blunder.

The Department of Internal affairs has apologised to Canterbury Television (CTV) after journalists were turned away from covering the arrival of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday.

Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, paid tribute to the people who died in the CTV building during the Christchurch earthquake. The pair laid a wreath at the site.

The building was where 115 of the 185 people who died in the February 2011 earthquake died.

Among those victims were employees of the station and 28 Japanese students*.

However, CTV’s head of news and content, Jacqui Shrimpton, said it received no notice of the site visit or what it entailed from the Department of Internal Affairs, which managed the event’s media coverage.

It is possible the DIA doesn’t have list or contacts for regional media, and just uses a national media list. But regardless, they should have regional media lists.

When a CTV journalist and cameraman arrived they had been ejected by police because their names were not on the list, Shrimpton said.

“We are frustrated and disappointed to not have been invited and were embarrassed in front of Christchurch media to have been sent away.”

Police had been apologetic, but strict security meant they could not allow the journalist and cameraman to stay.

The Police need to take some of the blame also. There’s a time to follow orders blindly, and there’s a time to use some discretion. At a minimum the officers should have checked higher up the line, until someone with authority could say of course you should let CTV staff in, so long as they have ID (which they would have).

The combination of the DIA oversight and the Police inflexibility combined in what really was a quite offensive way, albeit unintentionally – blocking CTV from covering a memorial at their own former site.

Tags: , ,

Again, time to sack the Police

July 3rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

The Electoral Commission is saying nothing about apparent police inaction on breaches of the electoral law.

 Information provided by the Commission reveals that since the beginning of 2011 there have been 113 breaches of the Electoral Act that it’s referred to police for investigation.

Not one has resulted in a prosecution.

The Electoral Commission has declined to be interviewed about the matter.

The agency says what happens once it makes referrals, is a matter for police.

I’ve been going on about this since 2006. The Police failed to prosecute in 2005, 2008 and 2011. Three strikes and you’re out. Their non enforcement of electoral law, seriously undermines our electoral system. It’s time for another agency to be given the job.

Tags: ,

Police electoral prosecutions

June 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

One News reports:

The Police Association is signalling police 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 electoral law 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.

Tags: ,

A good appointment

February 26th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Anne Tolley announced:

Police Minister Anne Tolley has announced the appointment of current Deputy Commissioner Operations, Mike Bush MNZM, as the next Commissioner of Police.

Mr Bush, who has a wide range of operational experience both in New Zealand and overseas, has been appointed for a three-year term which commences on 3 April 2014.

Mr Bush has been Deputy Commissioner Operations since April 2011, and through Prevention First and Policing Excellence has managed a change programme in Police which has contributed to a 17.4 per cent drop in recorded crimes over the past three years.

He has held challenging roles in rural, provincial and urban areas, and as District Commander in Counties Manukau he pioneered the implementation of Neighbourhood Policing Teams, which have successfully been introduced across the country.

Mr Bush was responsible for planning and operations for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and also led the rollout of smartphones and tablets for frontline staff which has contributed to an additional half a million frontline crime prevention hours each year.

As Police Liaison Officer for South East Asia, Mr Bush was the first New Zealand official to reach Phuket following the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and was awarded the MNZM for his work during the operation.

Bush is very popular with rank and file police, and I place great store in their opinion. He also produced outstanding results at Counties Manukau District Commander.

His comments on Bruce Hutton as Hutton’s funeral, was a error of judgement and he has apologised for them. But I am glad they did not stop him getting the job. 35 years of excellent service should not be over-shadowed by one eulogy.

Retiring Commissioner Peter Marshall was also a popular top cop with the rank and file, and he produced some good results during his tenure. I hope Mike Bush will be able to do the same.

Tags: ,

Blaming the Police

February 19th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The family of slain gunman Antony Ratahi are still seeking answers almost three years after he was shot dead by police.

They say they are considering mounting a legal case against police over the shooting, but they are waiting for the release of the Independent Police Conduct Authority’s investigation.

Ratahi, 46, of Stratford, was killed after a 13-hour standoff with armed police at Opunake’s Headlands Hotel in July 2011.

He had a firearm, barged into the restaurant and barricaded himself inside the building with his former girlfriend Marcelle Beer. Police launched three separate investigations into the incident.

I’d say the best way not to get shot by the Police is not to kidnap your ex-girlfriend who has a protection order against you, and hold her hostage at gunpoint.

In May 2012 it was revealed 14 members of the armed offenders squad had been drinking before the siege.

By the end of the siege I’d say any effects would be long gone.

Ratahi’s eldest daughter, Cassia Proebstel, told the Daily News the family had been approached by a couple of lawyers keen to take a case against police.

I’m sure they were.

The police investigation found Ratahi’s shooting was lawful and justified, the officer who fired the fatal shot, the AOS commander and Special Tactics Group commander, who were in control of the situation, had not been drinking.

So seems a bit of a red herring.

Tags:

Police want 3 am closing time for Wellington

January 8th, 2014 at 9:04 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Thirty five people were fined for breaching liquor laws and dozens of others warned on New Year’s Eve alone, but police and Wellington City Council say the new rules are working well.

New liquor laws that came into effect on December 18 include a 4am closing time for bars, 11pm cutoff for supermarkets selling alcohol, and fines of between $250 and $2000 for breaches of the liquor ban.

The council has drafted a local alcohol policy which extends opening hours to 5am, but the policy has still to go through an approval process – and police are planning to appeal against it.

Inspector Terry van Dillen said the police view was that a 3am closing time for bars and a 9pm cutoff for off-licence liquor sales would be ideal.

“We believe 3am is a good figure – if people want to party, they can party from 9pm to 3am, they’ve just got to change their views from partying from midnight till 7am.”

I wish the Police would stick to their jobs and not try to become like the Mutaween. It is not their job to decide people must stop dancing in town by 3 am.

I’ve often been in town after 3 am. You may be at a function until around 11 pm, and then want to head out with a few friends to carry on talking and drinking. We’re not being rowdy, not drunk, not causing problems – just enjoying some drinks and conversation. On other occasions we may mix that in with some dancing, which you know is legal and okay to do after 3 am.

 

Tags: ,

Always check where you might land

November 29th, 2013 at 10:00 am by Jadis

D’oh

A South Auckland teenager ended up on the wrong side of the law, when he jumped the fence into the local police station while trying to escape officers.

Police were called to the Papakura Countdown supermarket around 6.45pm last night in response to a group of youths who were intimidating customers and washing windows in the carpark.

The group fled from police and one 14-year-old boy evaded officers by climbing over a nearby fence.

Unfortunately for the young man it was the fence of the Papakura Police Station.

“Unsurprisingly, he was quickly apprehended by police staff,” said Area Commander Jim Searle.

Tags: ,

Police need to do better

November 20th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Senior police did not closely watch a corrupt officer within their ranks after a woman accused him of indecency – because they knew nothing of her complaint.

Sources have told The Press that Gordon Stanley Meyer’s supervisors at Christchurch South police station were not told about the 2007 complaint until after his 2011 offending came to light.

Police National Headquarters said last night there were no “lawful grounds” to tell them about it.

This is bureaucratic nonsense. There may be no lawful grounds to discipline an officer over the earlier complaint, but that is very different from not noting it on his file, and ensuring his supervisors are aware of it.

The senior constable accepted an offer of oral sex to let a 23-year-old woman off a drink-driving charge in September 2011 and touched an 18-year-old’s breasts in a patrol car in April 2011.

After his guilty pleas, police revealed a woman made a complaint six years ago that Meyer indecently touched her in a public place, also while he was on duty.

Police investigated, but found there was insufficient evidence to prosecute or discipline Meyer.

Police Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls told Radio NZ that Meyer was not issued a warning over the 2007 complaint, nor was a monitoring programme put in place. “You would have thought he would have heeded the warning of the inquiry. Obviously he didn’t.”

You would have thought the Police would make a file note!

When asked why Meyer’s supervisors were not informed of the 2007 complaint, a police spokesman said: “Police are bound by the same laws as any other employer. In the absence of sufficient evidence in either the criminal or employment context police had no lawful grounds to take the measures … outlined.”

This is where the Police have it wrong. There is a difference between the level of proof needed to take action, and to inform supervisors.

The principal of the Northland school who didn’t tell anyone about the complaint about his deputy principal was castigated by everyone for his failure. The Police seem to be doing the same.

The 2007 Bazley report recommended that all relevant information to give a “complete picture of an officer’s full record of service” should be accessible to supervisors when making appointments, monitoring performance and investigating complaints.

A police spokesman said they had until 2017 to implement the recommendations.

They should get on with it.

Tags:

A responsive Commissioner

November 11th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I criticise the Police when they deserve it. For over a decade I’ve been critical of how they (don’t) prosecute electoral law offences and have called for that power to be removed from them. And the failure to promptly disclose that there had been complaints about the Roast Busters members previously was a massive fail for them.

However the details of this story in the Herald are grounds for praise, not criticism, of the Commissioner.

The Herald reports:

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall – whose department is under fire for its handling of the Roast Busters affair – today personally phoned a man who has been publicly criticising the police over the matter. …

Mr Marshall called the person because they had lodged a complaint via the police website on Thursday in relation to police behaviour at Police National Headquarters. The person had provided their full name, address and phone number, the spokeswoman said.

“The Police Commissioner and other executive members are provided with copies of relevant expressions of praise or complaints and the Commissioner often personally follows up the matters raised with individuals, if they have supplied their contact details”, the spokeswoman said.

I think there are three things worth praising here.

  1. That feedback on the Police that people provide through the Police website actually goes to the Commissioner and Executive – not just to some PR flunky
  2. That the Commissioner will actually respond personally to a serious complaint, rather than be an out of touch desk jockey
  3. That the Commissioner was working on a Sunday

I wish more leaders would do that.

The man – who comments on Russell Brown’s Public Address blogsite under the username Kracklite – has over the last week criticised the police as an “organised pack” of misogynists with a “very sick culture” who had destroyed the public’s trust in them.

This afternoon, after criticising Mr Marshall’s performance when he was interviewed on television’s Q+A earlier today, he posted that Mr Marshall had just phoned him directly.

“I hung up immediately when he identified himself,” the man posted.

That’s rather rude. Maybe he got a bit paranoid and thought the call was in relation to his pseudo-anonymous comments on Public Address, rather than his filling in an official Police feedback complaint form – but if he hadn’t hung up immediately then he could have discovered that.

“Given the serious allegations in this particular complaint, the Commissioner phoned the individual, using the contact information they had supplied, in order to discuss the matter further. The Commissioner only got as far as identifying himself before the individual hung up, saying he did not want to speak to him further.”

Why fill in a complaint form making serious allegations, and providing your contact details, if you don’t want a response?

The Police have not handled the Roast Busters saga at all well. I certainly have several questions about why they didn’t take other action against the youths, short of prosecution. The IPCA report will be most interesting, and there are legitimate questions over the Police culture.

But I don’t believe in beating up on the Commissioner for being responsive to a complaint, as some were doing on Twitter yesterday. Marshall is known to be very popular with the rank and file Police because he isn’t cloistered at Police HQ, but actually gets out and about. His phone call is part of that style.

Tags: ,

More on Roast Busters

November 7th, 2013 at 5:50 am by David Farrar

3 News last night reported:

Ever since 3 News broke the story of the west Auckland Roast Busters, police have maintained they couldn’t prosecute the underage sex gang until they received a complaint from a victim.

Tonight it can be revealed the police did receive a complaint from one girl; two years ago.

The girl, now 15, says she felt it was her word against the Roast Busters and no charges were laid.

“This is my chance to say something. I couldn’t do anything two years ago. I want to do something now,” she told 3 News, in the presence of her mother and sister.

She wanted to be identified, but for legal reasons she is unable to be shown or named. She says she was sexually assaulted by the Roast Busters when she was 13.

“Joseph was on my left side. Tristram was on my right. And Beraiah was on top […] I was a virgin.”

She says she was “terrified”.

“I started crying and was asking Beraiah to hop off and I was scared and stuff […] I was more traumatised that I was 13 and losing my virginity.”

She says she was telling them to stop and get off her, but they continued. It was Joseph, she says, who eventually stopped it.

“He said ‘Beraiah get off her or you’ll be done for rape’ […] He said ‘oh shit’, and hopped off.”

She believes she was one of the first victims. Afterwards, she blamed herself. She stopped eating and it took weeks to tell her family.

They immediately took her to the police, where she says she laid a complaint. Her brother handed over the boys’ names and addresses to the detective.

“I had a video interview where I had to act out what had happened with dolls […] It was traumatising.”

But, apparently, it wasn’t enough. She said she felt like it was her word against the Roast Busters.

“They said that I didn’t have enough evidence to show. Because I went out in clothes that was pretty much asking for it. […] I was asked a lot of questions about what I was wearing, and I went out in a skirt.

“If it was me, it could be any of my friends. I knew it would carry on ,” she says. 

“I can’t believe nothing was done then. From then I have had my friends sexually abused by them. How many girls have been raped? I have seen posts done by girls saying Roast Busters ruined their lives […] They’ve gotten away with so much.”

The girl plans to lay another complaint with police tomorrow.

There may be two sides to this story but one the face of it, this is appalling. Regardless of any issues around proving consent, this doesn’t apply as she was 13. I can’t understand how this did not lead to a prosecution.

It is good the complaint is being re-laid.  The challenge for the Police is to convince people that the culture that was evident in some (not all) areas of the Police with regards to sexual violence and women in the past, has been changed. It is not apparent it has. The sad thing with this is a number of female friends who have remarked that if they were raped as a young woman, they would not (or did not) go to the Police.
Of course it is not just the Police who may have a culture problem.  In this Stuff article, the “Roast Busters” are defended by some of their female friends:

The Roast Busters are being publicly defended by an unlikely source – their female friends.

The young women say the girls involved with the Roast Busters knew exactly what they were getting into. Many of the girls had group sex with the gang more than once, showing that they were willing participants, the friends claim.

Many, is not all. It doesn’t matter if 95% were willing participants if 5% were not.

Hargreaves and four of her friends appeared on TV3 last night, speaking out on behalf of the group. They said Hales and Parker were “not rapists” but “cool dudes”, and that drunken group sex was actually “normal in West Auckland”.

“Not for everybody though it’s just the young ones – 13 to 15-year-olds – that’s what they do”, one of the girls claimed.

That is very very sad. I’m sure not applying to all of West Auckland, but there is obviously a sub-culture where it is, and presumably huge peer pressure to conform.

UPDATE: Stuff now reports that the Police in fact had four complaints in the past about members of Roast Busters. This is a very serious situation for the Police as they had been saying that they could do nothing because there had been no complaints.

There are now multiple issues for the Police to deal with.

  1. Why did they say there had been no complaints, when there had been four? My assumption is a communications stuff up rather than malice, but it simply isn’t good enough. This information should have been made available to the hierarchy the moment the public spotlight turned on these West Auckland youths.
  2. Why were there no prosecutions in the past? Now we need to be careful here as the Police are independent and are the ones who have to weigh up whether a prosecution can succeed. And lack of consent can be very difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt. However if the girls complaining were under 16, then the issue of consent is not necessary for a prosecution. Now again, some judgement here is needed. If two teenagers both aged say 15 and a half have consensual sex, and say the parents of the girl complain, I don’t see much merit in turning the 15 and a half year old boy into a criminal. But if the girls are themselves the complainants and they are aged under 16, then it seems a case for prosecution. Other factors can be the age difference. Two 15 year olds is different to say a 19 year old and a 14 year old.
  3. If there were four complaints, why did the Police not take some other action, short of prosecution. Were any of the young men interviewed and cautioned? That in itself would be a good way to scare them into not thinking it is okay to get young under age girls drunk so you can have sex with them.
Tags: , ,

Police need to be better shots

October 25th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police officers who chased and shot dead an armed teenager broke a number of police policies, but were justified in the shooting, a report into the incident concluded today.

Lachan Kelly-Tumarae, 19, died after being shot numerous times in a stand-off with officers in Hawkes Bay in March 2011.

The details are:

Mr Kelly-Tumarae had left his grandmother’s home in Flaxmere, in the early hours of the morning of Sunday, March 28, with his late-grandfather’s shotgun. He had both alcohol and cannabis in his system from the night before.

The teenager was spotted by a routine patrol crouching beside a car, and when they stopped, he approached and pointed the weapon at them.

The officers sped off and reported the incident to their communications centre.

An 18km pursuit through suburban Napier began after Mr Kelly-Tumarae drove away in his grandmother’s car and ended up outside the main entrance to the Omahu Marae Cemetery, west of Hastings, where his grandfather was buried.

The teen got out of the car with the shotgun and pointed it at an officer parked close by. A policeman in a second vehicle got out of his patrol car and aimed his Glock pistol at Mr Kelly-Tumarae, shouting “armed police”.

The 19-year-old ran towards the cemetery, then stopped and turned around, aiming his gun at the armed officer.

In that situation the Police had no option but to shoot him. If you have armed police telling you to surrender, you don’t point a gun at them. Mr Kelly-Tumarae is entirely responsible for his own death.

“Fearing that Mr Kelly-Tumarae was going to shoot him, the officer discharged a volley of shots. Mr Kelly-Tumarae remained standing, and believing he had missed, the officer fired another volley of shots,” the report says.

A total of 14 bullets were fired from the police officer’s weapon, with four wounding the teen. Another bullet appeared to have passed through his clothing, the report said.

This is the issue of concern. A 4/14 strike rate is pretty bad. The officer obviously needs more firearms training. If you don’t hit the person with your first shot or two, then they may get to shoot you.

It is sad whenever it is necessary for the Police to shoot someone, as was this case. But when they do have to shoot, you want them to be accurate.

Tags:

Espiner calls for ban on police pursuits

September 11th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Colin Espiner writes at Stuff:

In the past eight years alone police pursuit policy has been reviewed five times, including a major overhaul in 2007 that led to stricter controls being placed around chasing offenders, including overall responsibility for a pursuit handed over to police comms rather than officers in the pursuing vehicle.

Yet the carnage has continued unabated, chiefly because the police bottom line has always been there is “insufficient evidence” to support banning pursuits and that the public itself would not support police allowing offenders to flee without giving chase.

The rationale seems to be that if police did not chase suspects they would get away, and therefore the end – catching the bad guys – justifies the means, even if that leads to the deaths of either the offenders or worse, an innocent member of the public.’

The problem is incentives do matter, and if bad guys know they an get away simply by speeding up, then you’d be an idiot to actually stop when the Police ask you to!

Not everyone agrees with this. Both Tasmania and Queensland have banned police pursuits in all but the most serious of circumstances after suffering a spate of deaths from crashes during pursuits.

It’s too soon to say if crime is up or accidents are down in those states. But as Queensland Police Commissioner Ross Barrett put it recently, “the key question is whether the death of an innocent motorist is a price the community is prepared to pay for the unfettered right of the police to pursue.”

Who is arguing for an unfettered right? The NZ Police don’t have such a right. There is a policy on when they pursue, and for how long. But remember that if you don’t catch the drunk driver, he may end up killing anyway.

Around half of pursuits in NZ are abandoned by the Police because they are too dangerous. So that is far from unfettered.

In 2013 there are more ways for police to apprehend suspects than a high-speed chase; helicopters, state-of-the-art communications, information sharing, computer and mobile phone tracking, electronic facial recognition software, and much more. It’s less dramatic, and it might take a little longer but I suspect most times the police would still get their man.

I’m not so sure. You can identify a vehicle and even who was in the vehicle, but you need to prove who the actual driver was for most offences.

What I’d back is far stronger penalties for those who fail to stop and flee, such as automatic destruction of their car.

There are some stats about what has happened in Victoria with limited pursuits:

In 2006 when pursuit guidelines were tightened, there were 186 reports of drivers evading police. Seventy-seven drivers or 41 per cent weren’t caught.

The following year the crime rate more than tripled with 589 drivers refusing to stop. 39 per cent were never found.

By 2010, 972 attempted to evade police with 45 per cent of those succeeding for good.

Last year evade police reports exploded to 1508 reported offences, 989 drivers or almost 60 per cent, are still on the run.

Totally predictable, if you make it effectively voluntary to stop for the Police.

Tags: , ,

Please Labour stop blaming the person who needs protection

September 4th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s police spokesman Kris Faafoi said the results showed a high level of use of the DPS by John Key.

“It shows how much the PM has stretched them.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said police made decisions on DPS staff assignments.

“The Prime Minister highly values his protection staff who are extremely professional and very hard working in sometimes challenging circumstances.”

I really wish Labour would stop their multi-year campaign of attacking the PM because he has Diplomatic Protection Squad Police accompany him. Its disgraceful. Their antics create a culture where politics may affect decisions around safety of the Prime Minister.

The PM (and previous PMs) get DPS protection because people threaten to kill them. It is not a perk of the job. It is a sad necessity. Labour should not blame the victim!

I hope when National is in opposition they are never so desperate as to criticise a Labour Prime Minister for having DPS accompany them.

Mind you if David Cunliffe wins, he may need the DPS to actually attend caucus meetings to protect him from his colleagues :-)

Tags: , , ,

33 girls at once

August 14th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

The court verdict follows today’s Daily Telegraph report about a NSW Police internal affairs investigation uncovering evidence Osborn allegedly saw up to 33 women at the same time, meeting four of them on any one day as far apart as Sydney and Newcastle.

Having 33 girlfriends at the same time, with none knowing about the others, is a logistical achievement – as is managing four in one day!

I wonder if he ever worked in NZ for the Rotorua Police in the 1980s?

Tags: