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Police conduct code ignores sexual relationships

Chester Borrows MP
National Party Police Spokesman

13 May 2008

Police code of conduct ignores sexual relationships

The new police Code of Conduct does not address the issue of officers’ sexual relationships with members of the public, as recommended by the Bazley report, says National’s Police spokesman, Chester Borrows.

“Sexual misconduct was the whole reason Dame Margaret Bazley was asked to investigate, so it’s strange there is no mention of it in the re-drafted Code of Conduct.

“Dame Margaret found there was a need for police to specify the types of action or behaviour that a member of the public could reasonably interpret as sexually inappropriate or unacceptable.

“She was surprised to find that none of the 42 offences in regulation 9 of the Police Regulations explicitly addressed the misuse of an officer’s position of power to have sexual relations, particularly with vulnerable people with whom they come into contact in the course of their work.

“She also found there was no reference to this aspect of misconduct in the draft Code of Conduct for sworn members issued in 2002.

“So, she recommended that police develop ‘standards, policies and guidelines on appropriate sexual conduct towards, and the forming of sexual relationships with, members of the public’, and that these ‘should be incorporated into all codes of conduct and relevant policy and training materials’.

“She went so far as to say that ‘In my view, implementation of a Code of Conduct for sworn police is a critical requirement for the effective management of sexual misconduct’.

“But neither the completed Code of Conduct nor any of the drafts contain any specific reference to this.

“Police Minister Annette King’s response is that it is ‘a matter of wording’, and that sexual misconduct comes under ‘a range of expectations regarding standards of behaviour’ set out in the code. But that doesn’t hold water when the code does contain 11 specific examples of misconduct and 13 examples of serious misconduct – such as sending inappropriate or offensive emails, and using databases for unauthorised purpose – but doesn’t mention sexual conduct.

“And her response that the Professional Relationship Policy ‘will incorporate sexual conduct and will be aligned with the new code’, raises the question of whether a policy that merely ‘aligns’ with the code fulfils Dame Margaret’s recommendation that it be put into all codes of conduct, and policy and training material.

“It’s clear to me that the police need to be very up-front and transparent on this issue, to dispel any public concerns.

“And because there are already investigations under way into possible breaches of the Code of Conduct, it should be tidied up as soon as possible.”

Attachment: answers to parliamentary questions


ENDS

Answers to parliamentary questions: Police Code of Conduct


2888 (2008). Chester Borrows to the Minister of Police (08 Apr 2008): Why have police decided to develop a Professional Relationship Policy that will “align with the Code of Conduct”, when the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct recommended that policy on appropriate sexual conduct and relationships “should be incorporated into all codes of conduct”?
Police Minister Annette King replied: I am advised that this issue is a matter of wording. The Police Code of Conduct does incorporate the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct. The Code of Conduct sets out a range of expectations regarding standards of behaviour, which would cover inappropriate sexual conduct. The Professional Relationship Policy, which is being developed, will incorporate sexual conduct and will be aligned with the new Code of Conduct.

2894 (2008). Chester Borrows to the Minister of Police (08 Apr 2008): Have any NZ Police employees been found to have breached the Code of Conduct and if so, how many breaches have there been and what disciplinary action did the employee face?
Police Minister Annette King replied: I am advised that a number of matters are being investigated under the new Code of Conduct. One case has been concluded with a written warning issued. A number of possible breaches of the code are leading to performance management action, rather than disciplinary action. Further matters are currently being investigated and may, in due course, result in disciplinary and/or performance management action.

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