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Questions for Police over Burton fiasco

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

4 March 2008

Questions for Police over Burton fiasco

National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power, says there remain many unanswered questions regarding Police failings surrounding the apprehension of Graeme Burton.

The report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) identified 'failings in the system', saying police 'did not respond satisfactorily' due to an 'unreasonable delay' before they became aware of Burton's arrest warrants.

"There is no doubt that the officers at the scene acted with great bravery to apprehend Burton, but there are still many questions relating to the period before his apprehension that the Commissioner and the Minister must answer:

1. Why did Commissioner Broad say on 30 January 2007 that he was 'satisfied that there was good collaboration' between Police and Corrections regarding Burton, that 'everyone was working to agreed policies', and that 'Police's judgment in the matter was appropriate', when the IPCA's findings are at such variance with these statements?

2. Why did Assistant Commissioner Pope say on 31 January 2007 that police were actively looking for Burton 'some days prior to the issuance of this warrant', when the IPCA says there was only a 'genuine and concerted effort to locate and arrest Burton' once the warrant was found by police on 1 January - 10 days after it was issued on 22 December?

3. Why did the IPCA find that 'no one took an active interest in or ownership of the situation' regarding police attempts to find Burton, when on 28 November the Police established Operation Tax with the aim of collecting enough evidence to get Burton's parole revoked, and what happened to this operation during the crucial month of December?

4. How did the full file of Operation Tax go missing?

5. Why was the officer overseeing the operation unaware of the warrant to arrest, which was issued on 22 December, until 4 January, despite two phone messages - yet the IPCA found that 'some police members knew that a warrant had been issued as early as 22 December'?

"That's a long list that points to serious systemic issues.

"These questions must be answered if we are to avoid a repeat of this fiasco."

ENDS

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