Police lies and cover-ups must stop

The advocate for a young man whose neck was broken by a police officer at a party in Wellington has renewed calls for an independent authority to investigate, prosecute and publicise poor or illegal performance by the police and suggests the introduction of a whistleblowers’ association.

“This Roast Busters debacle is another clear-cut case for the Independent Police Conduct Authority to be given powers to prosecute, or a new entity such as an Integrity Commission established. In Australia the establishment of a Whistleblowers’ Association, instigated by New South Wales detective Deb Locke, broke open the police corruption that then existed, resulting in an Integrity Commission with teeth,” said Iain Morrison.

Mr Morrison, who is the advocate for Jakob Christie whose neck was broken by a police baton at a party in Khandallah four years ago, said there has still been no apology in spite of Police Minister Anne Tolley saying that they should.

“The Roast Busters incident involving under-age sex is in itself is a very serious breach of the law, but people should not lose sight of the initial reaction of senior ranking police officers. They tried to cover up their ineptitude and appalling lack of professionalism by telling lies to the public. On Monday police said they had not received any formal complaint and so were powerless to lay charges. On Thursday, District Commander Bill Searle said there had been four complaints – one of them formal.

“The Police Minister has referred the Roast Busters matter to the IPCA for investigation, but Police Commissioner Peter Marshall has already decided the outcome with his statement to the DominionPost that he ‘did not expect any heads would roll’.”

Morrison said in the case of Jakob Christie the police took four years to investigate themselves and when they finally came out with a conclusion they found themselves to be blameless. However, the IPCA in a damning report found they had acted illegally, excessively and unfairly.

The IPCA’s outcome was to recommend a change in policy and provide training to implement this policy. No police officer has been prosecuted or disciplined; in fact some are popping up in the media with promotions from sergeant to acting inspector.

In spite of massive publicity around the Jakob Christie case and a DominionPost editorial calling for an apology, there has been no contact by police.

“The police assistant commissioner Grant Nicholls flannelled his way through a media conference and that’s the last we have heard,” Mr Morrison said. “They are thumbing their noses at the Justice system and they need to be brought to account.

“An authority with teeth would overnight turn around the inter-generational police culture of code of silence. At the moment they investigate themselves and believe they are beyond the law. Research shows 80 percent of New Zealanders do not trust the police to properly or adequately investigate themselves and this should give the politicians a clear mandate to act.

“If the situation is left, there will be continued erosion of public confidence in the police. People may start to take the law into their own hands,” Mr Morrison said.

For further information on the Whistleblowers Association, click here

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