Friday, April 27, 2012


Last week, Whangarei police chased a man who had been driving while disqualified. He was eventually captured and arrested, but sometime during the arrest - apparently when police were trying to force him over a fence while handcuffed - he suffered a broken neck and is now paralysed.

While not the result of deliberate police brutality, this is deeply disturbing all the same. At the least, the police have been negligent and failed in their duty of care towards a man in custody. Alternatively, they have shown a complete disregard for his safety, and likely violated the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (which requires both employers and employees - meaning the individual police officers concerned - to take "all practicable steps" to ensure that no action or inaction in the workplace harms any other person). Either way, it is not acceptable, and they need to be held to account for it.

Sadly, that seems unlikely to happen. The "Independent" Police Conduct Authority is investigating. And they are simply useless and compromised. In six months to a year, they'll issue the usual whitewash report, and to the extent it makes any recommendations at all, the police will simply ignore them.