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Goff Looks At Issue Of Police Name Suppression


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement

7 May 2001

GOFF LOOKS AT ISSUE OF POLICE NAME SUPPRESSION


Justice Minister Phil Goff said officials are looking at the issue of the protection of the identity of police officers who in the course of their duty are involved in the death of an individual.

He has asked the Ministry of Justice to consider how adequate protection can be provided for police officers in such circumstances.

"In the case of the officer involved in the death of Stephen Wallace, the media have acknowledged it is wrong prior to the conclusion of two independent investigations to subject the police officer to additional pressure by having his name published.

"The media has generally followed a long-standing protocol not to publish the identity of an officer involved in such circumstances, with only one weekly newspaper in the current case not adhering to this protocol.

"The recent publication of the officer's identity via the internet by an individual shows that the voluntary media protocol no longer offers sufficient protection.

"Society places police officers from time to time in situations where their lives may be threatened and where they may be required to take the life of another person.

"In any such case, thorough and independent scrutiny is required to ensure that the death of a human being as a result of a police action was reasonable and justified in the circumstances and whether the death could have been avoided.

"Pending the outcome of such inquiries, the police officers concerned should not be subject to harassment or prejudice through having their names published.

"Even if found to be entirely justified in their actions, police officers responsible for the death of another person suffer enormous trauma.

"It is unfair when the police officer concerned may be found to have been acting justifiably and in the line of duty, to be subject to intense publicity," Mr Goff said.


ENDS

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