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Police Complaints Authority should be closed

21 November 2007

Media Release:
Police Complaints Authority should be closed

The Police Complaints Authority should be closed. It's an embarrassment.

It has set a new record of eight years to respond to complaints about police misconduct in suppressing protest activity by Free Tibet protestors in a 1999 visit to Auckland by representatives of the Chinese government. Among other things police colluded with Chinese officials to block off the protest from the view of the Chinese government representatives.

It was a shocking abuse of the right to free speech in a democracy but it has taken the PCA eight years to respond.

The last complaint lodged by Global Peace and Justice Auckland was in March 2005 yet we received the response from the PCA in August 2007.

As well as a time waster the PCA invariably takes the side of the police with minimal, muted criticisms.

People complaining to the PCA do so in the mistaken belief that something significant may actually happen. However not only does everything occur at a snail's pace but the whole process is controlled by the police as the PCA does not have the resources to independently investigate complaints. For the most part it simply relies on an oversight of police investigations. It is effectively a rubber stamp for police misconduct.

The PCA was set up by the Labour government in the 1980s, in part as a response to many complaints about police misconduct through activity such as the 1981 Springbok tour protests. During that tour more than 360 complaints were made of police misconduct with just a couple being referred for prosecution and the overall outcome being just verbal warnings to three or four police.

In the intervening years the PCA has been a spectacular waste of time and money. Spare us all the mealy-mouthed words about making the police accountable. Close the PCA.


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