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Police Focus On Formal Warning Policy Review

Following further consideration of the issues, Police has decided against its appeal of the High Court ruling S v Commissioner of Police [2021] NZHC 743. Instead Police will focus on the review of its Formal Warning policy.

“After closer consideration of the facts and legal issues, the rationale for continuing with the appeal is no longer warranted,” explains Superintendent Iain Saunders, Director: Resolution Development.

“Instead I am confident that a review of the Formal Warning policy will result in operational staff delivering warnings consistently and fairly.

“The case was unique and has provided Police with an opportunity to review and develop our policy with the benefit and clarity provided by the High Court judgment,” says Superintendent Saunders.

In May 2021, Police launched a project to look at further policy development and what additional support and monitoring can be provided to our people to ensure Formal Warnings are consistently applied.

“We will work with Crown Law to ensure our updated Formal Warning policy fits within the Solicitor-General’s higher-level guidance on warnings.”

Police aims to have its updated Formal Warning policy in place by the end of the year.

In the meantime, staff have received updated guidance reminding them of the conditions that must be met prior to a warning being issued.


  • Formal Warnings are one of a number of the tools Police can draw upon to resolve incidents without requiring court action.
  • Formal Warnings are intended to be an effective mechanism for holding an individual to account and deterring further offending by showing them that the conduct is taken seriously and is recorded as part of their Police history.
  • The decision to issue a Formal Warning is at the discretion of an officer. It involves an assessment of the underlying factors of the incident to determine the best option to support both the perpetrator and victim, to help prevent future harm.

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