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Policing from the Beehive

Tony Ryall National Police Spokesperson

9 August 2001

Policing from the Beehive

The Government's plans to take control of the police force will have major implications for the independence of the police and should not proceed, National's Police Spokesman Tony Ryall said today.

National today opposed the introduction of the Police Amendment Bill (No 2).

"Labour and the Alliance say the changes will bring the 'police closer to the centre'. That's exactly our problem with the Government's plans. We say that's getting too close for comfort.

"A right for political interference will radically change the decades old convention whereby political parties have respected police independence.

"National is strongly opposed to this Bill which will let Ministers direct the Commissioner on staffing, delivery and public safety issues if politicians believe those decisions go against what they think.

"Making the Police Commissioner's salary subject to the State Services Commission and Minister's views is a backward step. Both the police and Ministry of Justice say this runs the risk of political interference.

"Do we really want the Police Commissioner thinking twice about prosecuting a drink-driving Minister, or a member of a Minister's staff or family?

"When you look at how this Government treated Roseanne Meo, Christine Rankin or Kit Richards we have no doubt that they will misuse this power.

"The Government will argue that the proposed legislation says Ministers can't interfere with prosecutions or investigations. But the Bill is fuzzy and suspiciously unclear. The Bill says a Minister can interfere if the Commissioner acts against the Government's crime reduction objectives. Well, those objectives could be anything," Mr Ryall said.

Ends

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