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Police accept Operation 8 IPCA report

Police accept Operation 8 IPCA report

Police have accepted the findings of the Independent Police Conduct Authority's report on Operation 8 and have already made significant changes to address many of the issues canvassed in the report.

Commissioner Peter Marshall says he's pleased the IPCA confirmed the Operation 8
investigation was a "reasonable and necessary" response to the criminal activity being undertaken.

"While the report is critical of some Police actions, it also definitively lays to rest some myths that have become accepted as fact.

"Armed police officers did not search a bus full of kohanga reo children and officers did not set up a roadblock on the confiscation line. Those are welcome findings."

Mr Marshall says he accepts the Authority's commentary in relation to the Ruatoki and Taneatua roadblocks and five of the 41 property searches and acknowledges that Police underestimated the focus on Ruatoki and Tuhoe that subsequently emerged.

"The context is important here. This was an operation involving more than 300 police staff nationwide. It followed an almost two-year investigation into a group of people involved in military style training camps using Molotov cocktails, semi automatic rifles, threats to kill people and destroy property. The Authority says the threat was 'real and potentially serious' and the police response involved a 'huge logistical challenge'.

"Indeed, when Police executed the 41 search warrants they found 26 firearms. Seventeen were found in Ruatoki including a loaded pistol under the mattress of a suspect.

"Throughout the operation, the officers acted in good faith. Bringing the activities to a close was potentially very dangerous and police officers exercised an abundance of caution.

"However the IPCA has identified some instances where staff invoked statutory powers to carry out their actions, which were later found not to meet the legal threshold. In other instances, staff exceeded their authority or didn't interpret the legislation correctly.

"I apologise for those instances where Police failed to meet expected standards when carrying out the Ruatoki and Taneatua roadblocks and five of the 41 property searches."

Police have made many changes to operational policies and practices since 2007 - the most significant followed the passage of the Search and Surveillance Act 2012. This codified and clarified the law in relation to the way Police carry out surveillance, enter places and vehicles, conduct vehicle stops and search and secure people, places and vehicles.

Mr Marshall says the new law has diminished the likelihood of a similar situation arising again.

Police will now take time to work through the Authority's recommendations in detail with a view to implementing them. The recommendations are:

1. Re-engage with Tuhoe.
Significant work is already under way with Tuhoe and police at a local level. Nationally, work has already begun and with Tuhoe's consent, Police will continue to engage with the iwi to rebuild the relationship.

2. Maintain a decision log during the planning of major operations.
Will be considered with a view to implementing the recommendation.

3. Amend AOS policy on Nomex hoods.
Changes to AOS policy have already been made and Police will implement this further recommendation.

4. Require Police generally to undertake a Community Impact Assessment for all
operations with a potential for significant adverse impact.
Policy changes have already been made requiring the AOS to do this and consideration will be given to extending the requirement to all operations with the potential for significant adverse impact.

5. Amend the policy on planning for children and vulnerable people when executing search warrants.
Changes to the policy have already been made and consideration will be given to making further changes to implement the recommendation.

6. Clarify the policy in respect of photographs at road blocks.
Recommendation is accepted and will be implemented.

7. Amendments and clarification of policy reflected in Police training.
Recommendation is accepted and will be implemented.

Mr Marshall says he will oversee the implementation of the recommendations and continue to do everything he can to make sure the right policies, procedures and training is in place.

"Finally, it was most unfortunate for the community in the Ruatoki Valley that the activities of individuals in the Urewera forest required Police to launch a criminal investigation and I'm pleased the IPCA has highlighted that the targets of the operation were not exclusively Tuhoe or indeed Maori.

"Police did the right thing in carrying out the investigation, the arrests and the prosecution of those involved. However I do regret the impact bringing this investigation to a close had on the innocent residents of the Ruatoki Valley and other areas."


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