Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Cannabis ruling proves cops need to clean up act

15 February 2002

Cannabis ruling proves cops need to clean up their act - Nandor

Green MP Nandor Tanczos hailed a judgement released today in a cannabis possession case in Auckland as an important legal finding for civil rights in New Zealand.

In the Auckland District Court today Judge JP Gittos threw out charges against Chris Fowlie who was searched and arrested by police in June last year for the possession of 0.7 grams of cannabis, on the grounds that police action in searching him was contrary to the Bill of Rights.

"The finding says that if the police approach a person for no good reason, even if they claim they smelt cannabis, that is not legal grounds for a search," said Nandor.

Mr Fowlie, who is President of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), was talking with a friend on the street when a Team Policing Unit approached him and, when he refused to turn out his pockets for two constables, searched him.

In his 10 page judgement Judge Gittos said: 'In the case before me there was no evidence to indicate to the police that the Defendant and his companion were doing or contemplating anything illegal... There was no reason at all to approach these two men and require them to give some account of themselves. In my judgement it was unreasonable to do so.'

Judge Gittos went on to say: 'The circumstances overall leave an uncomfortable perception that the conduct of what Constable Hoshek described as a "sweep" by a Team Policing Unit may involve Officers engineering opportunities to conduct personal searches of persons minding their own business in a public street at random or on a purely speculative basis. It needs hardly be said that such conduct would manifestly contravene the provisions of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.'

"This judgement is a major challenge to the police practice of targeting and searching certain members of the public for no good reason and throws these trumped up charges out as a result," said Nandor.

"This is a significant judgement. Justice Gittos has clearly stated that police behaviour was unacceptable and confirmed what I have been saying - that police in this country routinely and arbitrarily stop and search people for no reason other than how they look," he said.

"President of the Police Association Greg O'Connor told the Health Select Committee that this was the case last year but has since tried to backtrack on his words. The courts have now acknowledged that this is in fact a reality and have said that people have a right to peacefully mind their own business without being harassed by police."

Nandor said this case had cost the State many thousands of dollars when police should be putting their supposedly scarce resources towards solving real crimes.

"I expect the police to review their practice manual and I will follow this with interest. I am also renewing my calls for an inquiry into police use of their search and seizure powers."


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>


Corrections Corrected: Supreme Court Rules On Release Dates

Corrections has always followed the lawful rulings of the Court in its calculation of sentence release dates. On four previous occasions, the Court of Appeal had upheld Corrections’ practices in calculating pre-sentence detention. More>>


Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>


General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>


Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news