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Police response a symptom of wider problems

Police response a symptom of wider problems

The findings of a report into police handling of media enquiries over the so-called ‘Roastbusters’ case should serve as a red flag for Anne Tolley, Labour’s Police spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

An Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has confirmed information provided by police to media in response to enquiries about the case were inaccurate.

“The report follows a complaint I made over the handling of the case in the media, and the investigation itself. Two members of the public, and eventually the Police Minister, also called for the IPCA investigation.

“The Authority found that a ‘systemic breakdown in communication by police led to inaccurate information being provided to the public’ which resulted in a ‘consequent negative effect on the credibility of the police’.

“Police claims that ‘none of the girls have been brave enough to make formal statements to us so we can take that to a prosecution stage, or even consider a prosecution stage’ were incorrect. The report notes police received four separate reports of concern from young women or their family, and one gave a formal statement.

“The findings are pretty clear; significant mistakes were made and these had a clear and damaging impact on all of the young women involved.

“New Zealanders’ trust and confidence in the police also took a hit.

“While there is no excuse for the way this case was so badly handled, the report does give some telling insights into the current police environment.

“The knowledge of the case was spread across two teams due to a restructure. Meetings held to discuss the case, and the response to media inquiries, were rushed, interrupted and did not have all the necessary information. As the IPCA notes ‘there was a collective breakdown of communication due to other commitments and the pressures of time’.

“This was a high profile case. The public interest was huge, and still a proper review of the case files didn’t happen. That says something.”

“Anne Tolley should be concerned by this report. It not only gives an insight into the police environment, but also highlights the dire consequences for all concerned when mistakes are made.”

Ends

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