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Safety for police and their families vital

Dr Paul Hutchison MP for Port Waikato

30 July 2003

Safety for police and their families vital

Ensuring the safety of police officers and their families, takes a step forward today with the introduction of the Police Complaints Authority (Conditional Name Protection) Bill by National Party MP Dr Paul Hutchison.

"The Bill, which gives conditional name protection to officers involved in firearm incidents while carrying out their duty, recognises on behalf of all New Zealanders the importance of the work the police do and the protection they should be afforded", Dr Hutchison says.

The Bill has been examined by the Ministry of Justice who found that "the Bill does not appear to be inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act".

The Ministry of Justice is supporting Dr Hutchison's Bill saying "it is apparent from the Wilson and Horton decision that there is a window of opportunity between when the incident occurs and the laying of any charge for anyone who wishes to publish information relating to the identity of the officer. This Bill seeks to close that window. The stated intention of the Bill is to protect the security and well being of police officers and their family".

While acutely aware of the High Court decision ruling in favour of releasing the name of the constable involved the Waitara shooting, Dr Hutchison says, "It is encouraging that the Ministry considers the Bill serves to preserve the integrity of the Police Complaints Authority".

"This small restriction on the coverage of firearm incidents will provide the Authority with an opportunity to conduct its investigations unhindered by heightened media interest that results from public disclosure of the officer's identity.

"The Bill ensures the personal safety of police officers and their families is protected and it reflects a public recognition of the work they do", says Dr Hutchison.


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