Rape Crisis Excluded From Police Rape Inquiry
Rape Crisis Seeks Input To Police Rape Inquiry
By Sarah Helm
Rape crisis groups are upset that the commission of inquiry into police rape is not consulting sexual abuse agencies.
Wellington Independent Rape Crisis coordinator Georgina Thompson said her organisation could not comment on how the inquiry was operating because, despite seeking information, they were not able to find any.
“We wrote a letter to [minister responsible for the inquiry] Trevor Mallard to tell him we were unhappy that no information had been sent to us,” she said. “We still have not heard back.”
There was a network of sexual abuse organisations in Wellington and none had received information.
“The experts in the area have not been consulted, so how can there be a real change for people coming into contact with [the police].”
Commission of inquiry spokesman Colin Feslier confirmed that there had been no consultation with sexual abuse agencies. He also confirmed that the only information made available about how to make a submission has been advertisements run on March 6, media releases and a website, www.cipc.govt.nz.
The advertisements had invited groups to become a “party to the inquiry”, Mr Feslier said. An example of a group likely to become a party was the New Zealand Police Association.
The commission would only shoulder-tap groups or individuals if they would add information to the inquiry. He did not believe that organisations such as Rape Crisis would be likely to add information because of the narrow terms of reference.
Mr Feslier said, however, he welcomed further submissions and requests to participate in the inquiry.
The terms of reference include a review of codes of conduct for the police, and the way in which complaints against the police are investigated in regards to sexual misconduct.
In February, Auckland Sexual Abuse Help Foundation counsellor, Caroline Day, was reported as saying she knew of four cases in the past 18 months where rape complaints against the police had not led to prosecution. The police have been in communication with them since the complaints were made public.
Manager Catherine McPhillips said that they have applied to be involved in the process, and are waiting to hear back.
“We hear of complaints that never get to the police.”
“We have insight into the barriers facing people in approaching the police, and I would’ve thought that would be of interest to the commission,” commented Ms MacPhillips.
Ms Thompson said it would be helpful to everybody if sexual abuse groups were more involved in the process.