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Police accept IPCA report findings

Police accept the findings of the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report regarding a Police investigation into inappropriate contact between a teacher and a student in Gisborne in 2014.

While the IPCA agreed with Police that there was insufficient evidence available to Police to charge the teacher with a criminal offence, the Authority also found the investigation to be deficient in several respects.

Eastern District Commander Superintendent Tania Kura acknowledges that there were several things Police did not get right during the investigation.

“The IPCA notes in its report that it is satisfied Officer B gave the investigation the appropriate priority, saying that he was at all times highly motivated to act in the best interests of Reiha McLelland and her family, and was committed to obtaining the best outcome he could,” says Superintendent Kura.

“However, it is very clear that there were a number of issues with how the investigation was carried out, including a lack of supervision, inadequate assessment and recording of evidence, and inappropriate management of a conflict of interest."

“Eastern District Police have conducted an internal review of the investigation and our findings were broadly in line with the IPCA’s findings released today.”

“We have to be better than this.”

“In particular, it is crucial that all officers – no matter what rank they are – are able to identify a potential conflict of interest and know how to appropriately manage it.”

“It is also vital that appropriate supervision is in place for all investigating officers.”

The IPCA also notes that while it had identified some issues with the investigation, they were satisfied that the outcome was not pre-determined and Officer B was sincere in his investigation into whether or not the teacher had committed a criminal offence.

“I do want to acknowledge these comments by the IPCA, and also comments made in the Coroner’s findings, which noted that it was to Officer B’s credit that he had run a comprehensive investigation, given that he had not been provided with instructions regarding an alternate supervisor,” says Superintendent Kura.

“Notwithstanding the issues identified by the IPCA - and by our own internal investigation into this matter - I am satisfied, as is the IPCA, that the ultimate outcome of this case was the correct one: there was insufficient evidence to charge Samuel Back with a criminal offence.”

“While I cannot speak for Reiha’s family, I do want to acknowledge how extremely difficult the release of this report and the subsequent publicity must be for them.”

“It has been four years since Reiha’s tragic death and I’m sure the pain of her family and friends has not diminished in that time.”

“Reiha’s death weighs heavily on all those involved in this case.
I hope to meet with Reiha’s family in the coming days to discuss the IPCA’s findings, but for now I simply want to extend my sincere personal sympathy to her family and loved ones.”


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