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Law Destroying Courage And Initiative

There must be a full inquiry into any rules that kept armed policemen from entering an otherwise empty house to save a dying woman says ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks.

"This has to be a wake up call for New Zealanders. We have been meekly accepting ever mounting OSH nannying. Now it is crushing old notions of courage, self-sacrifice and duty. Instead the rules seem to reward covering your back, avoiding responsibility, and saving your own skin at all costs.

"I will write to the Ministers of Police and Justice seeking urgent answers to the key questions: Were Police at the scene appealing to management to go in? Did they prevent the woman's daughter from going in to help her? If so under what authority? The `Safety first' concept has to be challenged. It can be a cloak for dithering. I know I will get howls of outrage for saying there are values higher than safety. Like selflessness, courage and duty.

"Some rules used to be simple and obvious to everyone -

· Delegate authority to people on the spot.

· Reward courage and individual initiative. Allow it full play.

"No one is asking for foolish heroism but when people on the spot are not allowed to make a judgment where is the room for honouring initiative, let alone traditional dedication to duty, and putting the interests of others first. What does this say to serving police officers about their own ability to rely on the on-the-spot selflessness and initiative of their fellow officers if they need rescuing? If I had been the daughter, blocked from going to my mother dying alone, pleading for assistance, I would have wanted to use a weapon against anyone blocking me. If this was the decision of remote authorities, covering their backs in OSH terms, we all need to wake up about where this OSH fixation is taking New Zealanders.

"We used to think of ourselves, in comparison with other more managed and subservient societies, as irreverent to authority, practical, willing to act on our own initiative, bucking authority, enterprising. How can that survive? What kind of system has been created where police on the ground cannot exercise judgment and display normal courage in a case like this?


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