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Police Assn. support for independent inquiry

7 November 2001

Police Assn. support for independent inquiry welcomed - Greens

Green Party Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today welcomed support from the Police Association for an independent inquiry into police practices and processes.

Yesterday Nandor repeated his call for an inquiry into systemic problems within the New Zealand police, saying that public confidence in the police had been damaged by a number of recent cases.

Responding to Nandor on the Kim Hill show today, President of the Police Association Greg O'Connor said: 'it may well be that our structures can be looked at to ensure that we have better supervision and that our file load, the way we take cases to court, that could perhaps be improved... if a public inquiry would fix that [falling public confidence in the police]... it may not be a silly idea'.

"Given the high number of recent cases involving substandard police work there is a clear need for an inquiry to find out what the problems are," said Nandor.

"I am really pleased that Police Commissioner Rob Robinson has acknowledged the serious problems within the police and I welcome Mr O'Connor's support for an inquiry to help restore falling public confidence.

"We have a policeman on trial for unlawful sexual violation, three young women have been wrongfully imprisoned for seven months and a group of Whangarei lawyers have banded together to keep an eye on local police due to concerns about excessive physical force. And this is the tip of the iceberg."

Nandor said the seriousness and scale of these problems should not be downplayed. The Criminal Bar Association says concern with police practices ranges from minor offences through to the most serious.

"Mr O'Connor today said police do not stop and search people because of the way they look. This is untrue. Countless people tell me all the time of how they are targeted by police because they fit some kind of stereotype," he said.

"Targeting of minorities is just one issue. The way cases are prepared for court, the way witnesses are interviewed, evidence gathered and people treated all need to be reviewed.

"I am pleased that the Police Association supports my call for an independent inquiry. Neither internal inquiries on specific cases or a Police Complaints Authority investigation can address the systemic problems."

ENDS


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