Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Our abusive police

How abusive are the New Zealand Police? The Independent Police Conduct authority has just found that they engaged in false arrest, arbitrary detention, inhumane treatment and denial of the rights to bail and legal advice on the West Coast:

In the early morning of 2 May 2015, Police arrested a woman and two men at an address in Greymouth and took them to Greymouth Police Station. One man was arrested for assault, and the woman and the second man were arrested for possession of cannabis. The Authority conducted an independent investigation after Police notified the Authority of issues relating to the detention of these three people.

The Authority has found that, while Police lawfully detained the man arrested for assault, they were not justified in keeping him handcuffed for a prolonged period while he was alone in a cell. The actions of Police breached his right to be treated with humanity and respect for his inherent dignity while deprived of liberty under section 23(5) of the New Zealand Bill Of Rights Act 1990.

In relation to the man and woman arrested for possession of cannabis, the Authority has found that Police were not justified in arresting and charging the man, and consequently breached his right not to be arbitrarily arrested under section 22 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

Additionally, after the officers had taken both of them back to the station, Police continued to arbitrarily detain them in breach of their rights under sections 22, 23(2) and 23(3) of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. Police did not take them to appear at court on the morning of their arrests; instead a sergeant directed that they be kept in custody while he was off duty so that he could interview them when he returned to the Police station at 10pm that evening.

From the time of their arrests, the woman was detained by Police for over 19 hours and the man for over 15 hours. Police did not have the power to detain these people for questioning and should have released them, either without charge or on bail, after their opportunity to appear at court had passed.

The IPCA normally ignores substantive abuses as judgement calls. But on the procedural stuff they have no wiggle room. And in this case, it appears to have been a fairly significant abuse. The Stuff version of the story notes that police are "undertaking an employment relations process" with one officer, and hopefully the abusive fuck will be sacked. Meanwhile, his victims are due compensation - unless Judith Collins legislates against that too...