Po­lice bun­gle com­plaint in­ves­ti­ga­tion

In­for­mal process crit­i­cised

Central Otago Mirror - - CENTRAL NEWS - By JOHN EDENS

Cen­tral Otago po­lice erred by not for­mal­is­ing a com­plaint in­ves­ti­ga­tion that led to apolo­gies to two Alexan­dra teenagers, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments ob­tained un­der the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act.

The doc­u­ments re­late to the apolo­gies and Otago Lakes Cen­tral area com­man­der In­spec­tor Olaf Jensen has con­firmed a re­view was un­der­taken into the han­dling of the case.

How­ever, there has not been a for­mal in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The teenagers and their fam­i­lies raised con­cerns about the youths be­ing wrongly blamed for in­stances of wil­ful dam­age, searches by po­lice, an al­leged as­sault and threat made by a constable and a house search with­out con­sent.

The fam­i­lies com­plained to po­lice and, af­ter re­view­ing the case, let­ters from Cen­tral Otago sub area su­per­vi­sor se­nior sergeant Ian Ker­risk, of Alexan­dra, of­fered apolo­gies to the teenagers.

In the let­ters, Ker­risk said the teenagers did not re­ceive the level of ser­vice or treat­ment from po­lice that they de­served.

‘‘I am sat­is­fied that the of­fi­cers’ ac­tions were part of their polic­ing method and not any per­sonal vendetta against you, but I am also sat­is­fied that their ac­tions were not in ac­cor­dance with the poli­cies and pro­to­cols of the New Zealand Po­lice.’’

Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments, the two con­sta­bles in­volved – who have since re­signed – told se­nior of­fi­cers their con­duct was ‘‘old fash­ioned polic­ing’’.

In a ‘‘back­ground’’ no­tice to the area com­man­der, Ker­risk said he formed the view the ac­tions of the of­fi­cers would, in the event of a for­mal com­plaint, bring harm to the rep­u­ta­tion of po­lice.

He said he thought the mat­ter was re­solved, un­til Novem­ber ‘‘when it resur­faced af­ter the youths and [redacted] ap­proached me again out­lin­ing that they were still un­happy.’’

Ker­risk said the con­cerns were not fully doc­u­mented as a com­plaint be­cause he hoped to deal with the mat­ter in­for­mally.

He ac­cepted that he should have com­plied with best prac­tice pro­ce­dure and for­malised the mat­ter at the start, send­ing it to the pro­fes­sional stan­dards depart­ment.

‘‘I ac­cept that be­fore writ­ing let­ters to [redacted] and [redacted] I should have con­sulted with you as area com­man­der and the pro­fes­sional stan­dards manager.

‘‘I know the stan­dards re­quired and have dealt cor­rectly with sim­i­lar mat­ters in the past. In hind­sight I have no ex­pla­na­tion as to why I didn’t com­ply with them on this oc­ca­sion.’’

OIA doc­u­ments un­der ‘‘timeline and notes’’ re­ferred to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the com­plaint by the teenagers and fam­i­lies.

The doc­u­ments said: ◗ A bag and pocket search, as out­lined by the com­plainants, did not fit with leg­is­la­tion. ◗ Cir­cum­stances of ‘‘grab­bing and whis­per­ing’’ did not fit with pol­icy and ‘‘could be seen as a crim­i­nal act of as­sault’’. ◗ Some con­sent was ob­tained for a house search but there was a con­cern whether this was ‘‘in­formed con­sent’’ and, re­gard­less, search­ing a house for a per­son did not ex­tend to open­ing draw­ers and cup­boards.

At a meet­ing with the teens, po­lice apol­o­gised ver­bally if the ac­tions of staff – as out­lined by the youths – caused them dis­tress.

Po­lice also spoke in­for­mally to one of the con­sta­bles.

‘‘He ac­knowl­edges the in­ci­dents but dis­agrees with the na­ture of them as out­lined, but puts it down to an ‘old fash­ioned’ polic­ing style of his.’’

Re­gard­ing the house search, the of­fi­cer was ‘‘ adamant that con­sent had been given to search the house and was dis­mis­sive of any pos­si­ble com­plaint about the search.’’

Po­lice, in a state­ment this week, said all in­quiries into the mat­ter con­cluded with­out iden­ti­fy­ing any of­fend­ers.

No other in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

of­fi­cers were un­der

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