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IPCA Report Lacks Context

25 February 2008

IPCA Report Lacks Context

The report of the Independent Police Conduct Authority into the shooting of Graeme Burton lacks sufficient context for its criticism of Police", Police Association Vice-President Chris Cahill said today.

"The Independent Police Conduct Authority is only mandated to examine Police. There is little or no scrutiny of other agencies, or their own accounts of their actions, even though they had a clear impact on Police," Mr Cahill said.

"Police take their role in ensuring public safety from paroled offenders very seriously. But responsibility for monitoring and managing paroled offenders does not rest solely, or even primarily, with Police. The absence of a broader view such as that taken in the Coroner's investigation means the report is, unfortunately, unbalanced."

Mr Cahill highlighted the IPCA's suggestion that Police unwillingness to jeopardise informants slowed Probation seeking a recall order as one example.

"There is absolutely no evidence that Police's concern to protect their informants had any material impact on subsequent events," Mr Cahill said.

"Probation could have taken action for breach of parole conditions as early as 13 December, a fact already acknowledged by Probation to the Coroner. Even when the application for an interim recall order was eventually made, on 29 December, it was made and granted without such an affidavit. It is incorrect to portray Police's concerns as having prevented action being taken earlier."

Mr Cahill said the IPCA report also failed to point to any clear opportunity for Police to prevent Burton's rampage on 6 January 2007.

"Despite dwelling at length on 'what ifs' and 'if onlys', the report offers no evidence to suggest that issues with alerting Police to the existence of arrest warrants actually led to missed opportunities to arrest Graeme Burton before the tragic death of Karl Kuchenbecker," Mr Cahill said.

"The simple fact is, Police did not know where Burton was. He had been on the run since early December. Efforts were being made to locate him, but these had been unsuccessful."

"Wellington police acted professionally and dealt as best they could with their serious concerns about Burton, with the information they had at the time. The IPCA has had the luxury of 20/20 hindsight and more than 12 months of consideration."

"That is not to say lessons should not be learnt. Changes have already been made to parole laws and changes are being made to procedures for dealing with parolees. Those changes can only improve Police's ability to take action in future," Mr Cahill said.

Mr Cahill welcomed the report's vindication of police actions in response to calls on 6 January, and endorsed the praise given by the IPCA to the actions of the two officers who confronted Burton.

"Officers A and B showed considerable courage, cool heads and sound judgment in confronting the armed and dangerous Burton. Given Burton's actions that evening, it is quite likely that the officers prevented further serious incidents by apprehending him before he could make his way into a residential area," Mr Cahill said.


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