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Call for independent Police Complaints Authority

27 September 2006

Greens echo calls for independent Police Complaints Authority

Claims by lawyers and civil liberties groups that the Government is ignoring glaring problems with the Police Complaints Authority are being echoed by Green Party Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos.

"The Human Rights Foundation and the Auckland Council for Civil Liberties are right to point out that the existing Police Complaints Authority is not sufficiently independent and too slow and cumbersome in its processes," Nandor says.

Auckland human rights barrister, Jeremy Sutton, said today that he advises his clients to bypass the Police Complaints Authority altogether and take their cases straight to court because the process is so slow.

"The Green Party has called repeatedly for an independent Police Complaints Authority to be established to address these issues," Nandor says.

"Justice Minister Mark Burton's bill to improve the authority may help to speed up the complaints process, but as long as the complaints process is internal, concerns will remain. It is simply not appropriate to have police investigating their own members when complaints are laid.

"A far better option would be to combine an independent Police Complaints Authority with an independent Prisons Inspectorate. At present, both these complaints bodies are internal. It would be far better to have an overarching body with the capacity to independently investigate complaints in both jurisdictions, and combining the two would streamline resources and be more efficient than the current model.

"It is vital to public confidence in the Police and Justice systems that we do something to alleviate concerns about complaints processes. It is simply not good enough that lawyers are advising their clients to bypass a complaints process to which they are rightfully entitled.

ENDS

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